COMMENTARY | Oak Ridge, Tenn., is in the heart of the Bible belt. From my house, I can comfortably walk to at least half a dozen Christian churches.
Additionally, Oak Ridge has one of the strongest government presences of pretty much any city, except Washington, D.C. Not surprisingly, this is normally a pretty conservative area.
It seems, though, that times could be changing here. The Advocate named Knoxville (located just "over yonder" from Oak Ridge) as the eighth gayest city in the country in 2012. Unsurprisingly, this created a huge public reaction from both the LGBT community and conservative groups. Even more recently, a local newscaster reported on a same-sex couple who applied for a marriage license in Tennessee, even though they knew gay marriage isn't legal here.
Gay marriage has been gathering attention across the country, and Tennessee can't ignore this issue any longer. It affects the population's civil liberties and legal rights; it is controversial and could have a huge impact on voters' decisions, political popularity and statewide policies. In 2013, Tennessee should join in the national debate over gay marriage. Although the conservative basis here is strong, legalizing same-sex marriage would help to make Tennessee a state that shapes, rather than reacts to, political and social trends. It would change the public perception across the country of this state, and, most importantly, it would change the lives of countless couples in my state.
Even though it's not on the lawmaker's agenda yet, they won't be able to keep avoiding a decision on gay marriage for long. In 2013, Tennessee is going to have to decide if it is ready for rainbow weddings.
- Politics & Government
- Society & Culture
- gay marriage