Taylor Swift Shows Support for the TEP


Tara O’Leary, Staff Writer |

Last Monday, singer Taylor Swift made a sizable donation to the Tennessee Equality Project, a pro-LGBTQ+ advocacy group. The pop superstar sent $113,000 and a handwritten note to the organization’s director, Chris Sanders; “Dear Chris, 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,” she wrote. “Please convey my heartfelt thanks to them and accept this donation to support the work you and those leaders are doing. I’m so grateful that they’re giving all people a place to worship.”

The Tennessee Equality Project has been fighting a series of bills in the Tennessee Legislature that target the LGBTQ community. One of the bills being opposed protects adoption agencies that discriminate against prospective parents. This bill allows for agencies to opt out of participating in child placement if they feel that it goes against their religious or moral views, which would allow them to deny same-sex couples the right to adopt. “If this bill becomes law, same-sex couples, people of various religious beliefs, and people with no religious beliefs now face the prospect of being turned away from adoption agencies that they helped fund because they are labeled morally or religiously objectionable, which leaves children and youth with longer wait times for permanent homes,” Sanders explained. The organization also opposes a bill stating that the government would not be able to put businesses at a disadvantage in receiving contracts or grants if the internal policies of the business were discriminatory. The Tennessee Equality Project has referred to these bills and many others as the “Slate of Hate.” Sanders believes that Swift’s donation can effect what happens next. “The impact will be that her fans will certainly pay attention to what’s going on in the state legislature,” he said. “We are at a critical point.”

This wouldn’t be the first time that the singer has sparked a peak in political interest amongst her fans. Back in October, Swift broke her political silence and endorsed a pair of Tennessee Democrats as the November midterm elections were approaching.  “As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn,” Swift posted on Instagram at the time. “She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values.”

Within 24 hours of her Instagram post, 65,000 people registered to vote. She urged fans to vote once again during her acceptance speech at the American Music Awards, saying, “This award and every single award given out tonight were voted on by the people, and you know what else is voted by the people is the midterm elections.”

In March, the singer acknowledged her sudden public interest in politics in a piece she crafted for Elle Magazine, “30 things I learned before I turned 30.” On her list, Swift wrote about finding her voice in politics. “I took a lot of time educating myself on the political system and the branches of government that are signing off on bills that affect our day to day life,” she said. “I saw so many issues that put our most vulnerable citizens at risk, and felt like I had to speak up to try and help make a change.”  Upon realizing that it is her responsibility to speak out, Swift has promised to be more vocal as 2020 approaches, “I’m going to do more to help. We have a big race coming up next year.”

In the past the 29-year-old has received praise for voicing her beliefs, and that was no different this time around when she made her donation. “This lit up my heart,” tweeted Ellen DeGeneres. Nick Morrow, a spokesperson for Human Rights Campaign, wrote, “As a gay Tennessean who loves Taylor Swift, one could say this news is…Taylor-made for me.”  Sanders, who was “honored and grateful” for the singer’s contribution, also had nothing but praise for her. “Taylor Swift has been a long-time ally to the LGBTQ community,” he said. “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.”

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