While the state of Tennessee plans to celebrate ido4life Traditional Marriage Day on Aug. 31, protesters are planning rallies across the state to support a more inclusive message.
Lawmakers passed a resolution in April to dedicate the date as a celebration of a "traditional marriage," which, according to the official document, is "expressed only between a man and a wife."
An organization called Tennessee Equality Project responded with plans for their own celebration to take place on the same day. The organization recognizes "all loving and committed relationships regardless of the genders or orientations involved," according to the event website.
What: Tennessee Marriage Equality Day
Where: 100 E. 11th St.
When: Saturday, Aug. 31, 2-4 p.m.
How much: Free
For more information: Click here
Rallies to support Tennessee Marriage Equality Day will be held in both Nashville and Chattanooga.
"It’s a protest of sorts," according to Marcus Patrick Ellsworth. "The event is more of a rally to get folks together and let them become more familiar with organizations involved in the LGBT movement."
Ellsworth is an openly gay artist and activist from Chattanooga. He is coordinating the Chattanooga version of Tennessee Marriage Equality Day, which will be held in front of the mayor’s office downtown.
The event will include several speakers, including City Council members Chris Anderson and Carol Berz. Other speakers include Matt Nevels of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays; Ardyce Mercier; and Kat Cooper, who spearheaded the efforts in Collegedale to allow same-sex couples to be eligible for employee benefits.
Ellsworth said Chattanooga is still behind the curve.
"Compared to other areas, specifically Collegedale, we’re just not there yet," he said. "The state itself does not recognize anything for benefits. It’s not recognized at all."
There is hope, however, Ellsworth said. He thinks Chattanooga is poised to be a leader of change.
"Chattanooga is becoming more visible and active," he said. "I just think we’re at a point now where if we want change we have to push for it. If we sit back and wait, it won’t come. This uber-intolerant Tennessee is not my Tennessee. It only makes sense."
Almost 200 people are expected to attend the rally, according to the event website.
Sign up for our email list to get your morning news delivered directly to your inbox. All we need is your email address.