Opinion » Letter From The Editor

Behind the Curve

On issues like gay marriage, medical marijuana, and minimum wage, Tennessee has some catching up to do.

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On Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States basically threw in its chips on the issue of gay marriage. By choosing not to hear arguments from plaintiffs contesting Appeals Courts' rulings that threw out several state gay-marriage bans, it effectively legalized gay marriage in 30 states. Tennessee's gay-marriage case, now before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, has not yet been officially decided, but the writing is on the wall, and it's easy to read. Eventually, Tennessee will be dragged, kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Get the rice ready, Gary.

Similarly, 23 states have now moved to allow the sale of medical marijuana, and several more are considering it. Those states that have legalized pot and are regulating its sale and distribution are now reaping large tax and tourism revenues, a financial boon for cash-strapped state budgets. Tennessee is still just saying no, dudes.

And as of August 2014, 23 states have instituted a minimum-wage higher than the $7.25-an-hour rate mandated by federal law. Almost without exception, the economies of those states have benefitted, as their working-class citizens spend more on goods and services. The price of a fast-food cheeseburger has not gone through the roof. People are not getting laid off. The sky hasn't fallen. In Tennessee? Well, apparently, we're just going to keep raising sales taxes, the most-regressive possible approach to "fixing" the economy.

In fact, Tennessee is going backward as fast as our in-bred legislators can take us. The state constitutional amendments on the November ballot are a perfect example. Amendment 1 basically gives carte blanche to the General Assembly to craft any anti-abortion measures it wants to, even extending to cases where the mother's life is being endangered. If passed, Amendment 1 will put a medical and moral decision that should be made by a woman and her doctor under the purview of the backwoods hillbillies in Nashville. Dr. Bubba, will see you now, ma'am.

Amendment 2 gives that same bunch of loons the power to approve the appointment of our state's judges. Another great idea.

Amendment 3 permanently bans any state income or payroll tax. Which means continued higher sales taxes — and more folks driving to Mississippi and Arkansas to shop. More smart thinking.

It's clear that our intrepid legislators are working hard to ensure that as the rest of the country passes progressive economic and social legislation that benefits the working class and appeals to young people — and the businesses that want to employ them — Tennessee stays firmly in the closet — and in the dark.

We're not just behind the curve. We're behind the eight ball.

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