Monday, February 19, 2007

Tennessee Equality Project -- Delightfully Crafty!

A year or two ago, we in Tennessee had an interesting political debacle over "Choose Life" license plates, which function in part as a fundraiser for an anti-abortion group. I actually haven't seen that many in my criss-crossing of the Western part of the state but that's beside the point. Apparently, most Tennesseans prefer a two dollar bumper sticker to a $35 dollar license tag. At any rate, the State defending itself against charges that it was violating the separation of church and state because if a pro-abortion group, or any other group, wanted a license plate they could petition for one. Or something like that.

Anyway, a bill has been introduced to establish a license plate for the Tennessee Equality Project, which is a non-profit that works to protect GLBT people in the state of Tennessee. It's a beautiful tactic. TEP does a wonderful job at tailoring their approach to the culture of Tennessee. They avoid an "in your face" confrontation (Which I'm sorry to report would probably only lead to violence in a lot of places in TN.) in favor of more subtle and very dignified appeals to values, like oh say, equality and justice. And despite the massive setback of the passage of the marriage ammendment in the past election, they're keeping up the fight.
And introducing a bill for a license plate is a brilliant way to proceed! The low-key design -- just an equal design and Tennessee Equality Project -- cuts through the layer of cultural and religious propanganda, dare I say BS, to the basic issue of equal treatment under the law for all people. See, I don't think like this. My gut instinct is to grab people by the throat, cut to the chase, and argue with them. Incidentally, I have found that this doesn't work well. Which is part of the reason I'm so impressed the longsuffering folks running the TEP.

Anyway, it will be rather difficult for the state legislature to refuse them given the existence of the "Choose Life" plate and the debate will raise the profile of the TEP and provide and opportunity to educate and maybe even convince a few people of the need for justice and equality for everyone. Wendi Thomas analyzes this far better than I can because she's brilliant.

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