UT Lambda Student Union to push for voter turnout


On Thursday, August 3, the votes were tallied and former Chattanooga mayor Bob Corker won the Tennessee Republican Primary for the United States Senate. Corker had been favored to win the election because of his balanced platform in “conservative values.” 

“I will run with conservative means through conservative values,” said Corker at the Republican primary debate held at the University of Tennessee.
Corker will face Democrat U.S. Rep. Harold Ford, Jr., in the November election for the U.S. Senate seat. The seat formerly held by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is one that couldshift the balance of power in the U.S. Senate. This shift, if it occurs, could have far-reaching effects on the GLBT community.

In July 2004, Congress first attempted to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA), which would define marriage in the United Statesonly as a union of one man and one woman. It failed after the Senate could not reach the 60 votes necessary to invoke cloture, a procedure that would limit floor discussion and move the issue to a vote. June 2006 saw the next attempt to pass the FMA, which again failed with a vote of 49-48. With these close numbers, it is important to choose a candidate that would not write discrimination into our Federal Constitution.

The battle continues locally, with the Tennessee Marriage Amendment coming before the voters this November. While Tennessee already has had a law prohibiting marriage between any parties other than one man and one woman since 1996, Proposition One proposes adding this to the Tennessee State Constitution. If passed, it will be the first amendment passed in the history of the State of Tennessee that will reduce the civil rights of Tennesseans. It is a challenge the Lambda Student Union (LSU) at the University of Tennessee has committed to take on. LSU will do everything in their power to make a difference.
Lambda’s goal to increase voter turnout for college aged people is based on their belief that college students have a more liberal bias and could decide the outcome of the November election. However, voter turnout for the younger generation has always been low. For example, in U.S. Republican Primary only 18 of the 24,000 registered voters at UT-K showed up to cast their vote.
When asking students why they did not vote, the response list is endless. They range from not having enough time, had class, had work, did not know I could vote if I live in the dorms, do not follow politics, do not care, was not even registered, or the best one: “there was an election?”

Knowing the struggle they have ahead of them, Lambda still has high hopes in making a difference for the GLBT community. Lambda has teamed up with the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) and with their Vote No on 1 Campaign to canvass campus, push for voter registration, and educate the students on what ballots will be on the November election.