Taylor Swift has donated $113,000 to the Tennessee Equality Project to fight a raft of anti-LGBTQ legislation that activists have dubbed the "slate of hate."
"I'm writing you to say that I'm so inspired by the work you do, specifically in organizing the recent petition of Tennessee faith leaders standing up against the 'slate of hate' in our state legislature," the music star wrote the group's executive director, Chris Sanders, in a note posted Monday on the Tennessee Equality Project's Facebook page. "Please convey my heartfelt thanks to them and accept this donation to support the work you and these leaders are doing. I'm so grateful that they're giving all people a place to worship."
"Taylor Swift has been a long-time ally to the LGBTQ community," Sanders wrote in a post accompanying an image of the note. "She sees our struggle in Tennessee and continues to add her voice with so many good people, including religious leaders, who are speaking out for love in the face of fear. Tennessee Equality Project is honored and grateful to reveal Taylor Swift has made a donation of $113,000 to support our efforts at this critical moment."
Tennessee lawmakers are considering several homophobic and transphobic bills. The House of Representatives last week approved one that would allow faith-based adoption and foster care agencies, even those that receive state funding, to turn away prospective parents who somehow offend their religious beliefs, which would result in many LGBTQ applicants being rejected. It awaits action in the Senate.
The House also recently OK'd a measure that would prevent state or local governments from taking a company's internal policies into consideration when making contracts or grants, or changing tax treatment. It means that these governments could not require that companies they do business with have LGBTQ-inclusive antidiscrimination policies -- or offer health insurance or family leave or any number of other policies or benefits. It likewise awaits Senate action.
And Monday the House approved an update of the state's indecent exposure law, which "clarifies what constitutes a 'public place'" under the law and lists restrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms, and showers "designated for multi-person, single-sex use," The Tennessean reports. The bill, which now moves to the Senate, originally was written to target transgender people. While the anti-trans portions of the bill have been excised, "concerns remain about the impact on the transgender community if it becomes law, given the long history of harassment of transgender people in restrooms," Sanders told the newspaper.
Another measure addressing restroom use is pending; it would require the attorney general to defend local education agencies or their employees when they implement anti-transgender bathroom and locker room policies. It is scheduled to be heard in a House committee Wednesday.
A bill seeking to nullify marriage equality in the state Tennessee is stalled, but LGBTQ activists are remaining on guard. If it becomes law, it would likely force litigation that could potentially lead the Supreme Court to revisit the issue -- which seems to be what its backers want.
The faith leaders to whom Swift referred signed on to a statement opposing all the anti-LGBTQ legislation introduced in Tennessee this year. "As leaders of faith communities we oppose these bills in the Tennessee General Assembly," the statement reads. "They promote discrimination rather than justice and demean the worth of LGBTQ people in our state. We call on people of good will to join us in speaking out for basic fairness."