You might be surprised at how much you can do for equality between now and election day.
Even though you might not think of yourself as an activist, there are some easy things you can do to help the cause of equality regardless of who wins in November.
Voting is basic. If you’re not registered to vote or if you have moved since the last time you voted, it only takes about five minutes, a printer, a pen, an envelope, and a stamp to take change that. TEP’s web site includes an Activist’s Toolkit that can help you find the application and your county election commission so you can mail it in: http://tnep.org/toolkit/ .
Vote the entire ballot. Most of the attention this November is on the presidential election. Without question, it is important. Making progress on Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and the Matthew Shepard Act are all at stake. But the Senate race between Lamar Alexander and Bob Tuke will also have an impact on those issues.
We should also remember that many equality issues are settled at the State level. Don’t forget to find out all you can about the candidates running for State Senate and House races. Issues like adoption, the birth certificate bill, and the ability of Gay-Straight Alliances to function in our schools are all debated in the Legislature. Regardless of who wins, adding more voters who value equality will get us closer to our goals as a community.
Contact the candidates. If you never hear candidates talking about GLBT issues or can’t find anything on their Web sites, then contact them. When the candidates don’t think voters in Tennessee care about our issues, it becomes harder to convince them to support equality after November.
If you care about hate crimes, workplace equality, and ending discrimination in our military, go to Lamar Alexander’s website www.lamaralexander.com and Bob Tuke’s website www.tukefortennessee.com and ask them where they stand. Regardless of who wins, we need at least one senator from Tennessee who supports us. Being visible to the candidates is a first step.
Volunteer and contribute. Once you find a candidate at the federal or state level you can support, contact his or her office and find out how you can help. As you volunteer, you will find opportunities to say why GLBT issues matter to you. Make a financial contribution. The amount isn’t important. It will amplify your voice.
Stop California dreamin’. We can make excuses all day long why residents of California and Massachusetts have rights that we don’t. There’s no doubt that we face an uphill climb in Tennessee. But what we have to remember is that the GLBT community in those states worked hard for the rights they have.
If you’ve decided to make your life here in Tennessee, then stand up and fight. By having more conversations with candidates and elected officials, we will lay the groundwork for results and speed up the timetable for equality in Tennessee.