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Gay Marriage Amendment Passes

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The mood was somber at the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center MGLCC) last night, headquarters of the “Vote No on 1” campaign. The state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage passed with 80 percent of the vote in its favor.

As the hours wore on with no real change in voting totals, gay marriage supporters began to leave one by one until only a devoted few were left behind. But members of Initiative: Fairness (I:F) remained optimistic about the future of gay-rights issues in Tennessee. They’re already preparing for their next battles.

“We’re hoping to push for protection for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered (GLBT) employees across the state,” said Tommie Simmons with I:F. “Since Tennessee is a right-to-work state, we can be fired for being gay.”

Besides workplace rights, I:F will be working with the city to pass a non-discrimination ordinance, teaching the GLBT community how to lobby effectively, and compiling a list of local gay-owned and gay-friendly businesses. They’ll also be working on transgender issues, such as the right to change the sex on a birth certificate after sexual reassignment surgery.

According to CNN exit polls, only 14 percent of African Americans across the state voted “no.”

“In 2006, we reached out to the progressive community, but in 2007, we hope to reach out to the African-American community,” says Simmons.

Simmons says at least one good thing did come from the amendment being on the ballot.

“In many cases, this is a person’s first exposure to the voting process,” said Simmons. “Some people have just never been threatened enough to drive them to the polls.”

I:F is hosting a post-election town hall meeting on Tuesday, November 14th from 7 to 9 p.m. at MGLCC to discuss lessons learned from the “Vote No on 1” campaign.

By Bianca Phillips

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