- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:


June 24

The Daily News Journal on the one year anniversary on the U.S. Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling:

One year ago Sunday, June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage bans like those once on the books in Tennessee were unconstitutional, but the Volunteer State still has a long way to go to ensure full civil rights to sexual minorities.

In the time since the ruling, only 75 same-sex couples have tied the knot in Rutherford County. That means only 3.6 percent of all marriage licenses issued in Rutherford County were issued to gay or lesbian couples.

However, the gay community is not protected nationally from discrimination, leaving them to the discretion of the states in which they live.

This isn’t about religion or beliefs; it is about full and equal protection under the law as promised in the U.S. Constitution.

Sexual minorities are not a protected class in Tennessee, meaning they can legally be discriminated against simply because of their sexuality or gender identity.

Even if Rutherford County or the city of Murfreesboro wanted to add sexuality and gender identity to their anti-discrimination policies, state law would prohibit any changes or modifications that protect sexual minorities.

In fact, Chattanooga passed a city ordinance protecting sexual minorities earlier this year, but the state legislature passed a bill that nullified the protections.

State law also prohibits individuals who have had gender reassignment surgery from legally changing their birth certificates, which is part of the Vital Records Act of 1977.

These are some of the issues the Tennessee Equality Project hopes to address in the coming years.

But its fight may be long and hard.

The Supreme Court ruling has helped many homosexuals to be more open in public, because now they have the power of the federal government on their sides.

The newfound openness has made others uncomfortable, leading to a backlash that has been swift with legislation targeting transgender Tennesseans and homosexuals alike.

While our legislators may not be ready for gay rights, the younger generation is more accepting.

And the LGBT community in Rutherford has more work to do to educate the public.

The Tennessee Equality Project is actively working on events that will educate the religious community and community at large about sexual minorities and their place in the fabric of Rutherford County.

The TEP also is planning a gay pride event for October in downtown Murfreesboro. It will feature a march down Main Street and gathering on the Square.

While sexuality is more easily understood, the LGBT community’s next frontier will be educating the community about gender and transgenderism.

In the meantime, the LGBT community should work to make a difference one mind at a time by showing that they are teachers and cops, professors and bankers, mothers and fathers just like the rest of the Rutherford County community.

Online: https://www.dnj.com/


June 27

The Knoxville News Sentinel on Zaevion Dobson receiving the Arthur Ashe Courage Award:

Zaevion Dobson continues to inspire people across the nation, six months after he was shot to death while shielding two friends from gunfire in Lonsdale.

Dobson will receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPY Awards next month. The 15-year-old Fulton High School football player will be the youngest recipient of the award in its 23-year history.

The recognition is a tribute to the courage and sacrifice Dobson displayed on Dec. 17 when alleged gang members mistakenly fired on him and his friends. Police credit Dobson with saving the lives of two girls who also attended Fulton.

The award is given to individuals who exemplify the courage and dedication of Arthur Ashe, the tennis star, Wimbledon champion and human rights activist. “There’s nothing more courageous than somebody sacrificing their own life for somebody else,” Maura Mandt, the ESPYs’ executive producer, told The Associated Press.

Dobson’s sacrifice drew admiration from President Barack Obama, who tweeted that the 15-year-old was a “hero,” and later cited Dobson in a speech on gun violence.

At home here in Knoxville, Dobson’s death galvanized the community to seek long-term solutions to gang violence. A scholarship has been established in his honor; Fulton graduate Uriah Richie became the first recipient June 19 in a ceremony at World’s Fair Park.

Dobson’s mother, Zenobia Dobson, will accept the award on his behalf during the ESPY Awards ceremony in Los Angeles on July 13, according to the AP.

The Arthur Ashe Courage Award has been given since 1993, the year Ashe died. The first recipient was the late Jim Valvano, the college basketball coach whose tenacious battle with cancer continues to inspire millions years after his death. Other notable honorees include storied basketball coach and civil rights advocate Dean Smith and boxing legend Muhammad Ali.

Though most recipients have been sports figures, people from outside the world of sports have been recognized.

Dobson will be the seventh person to be honored posthumously with the Ashe Award. The others are teacher Dave Sanders, who was killed during the Columbine High School massacre after leading students to safety out of the cafeteria; NFL star-turned-soldier Pat Tillman, who died in combat in Afghanistan; and Todd Beamer, Mark Bingham, Tom Burnett and Jeremy Glick, who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, crash of Flight 93 after rushing the cockpit in an attempt to wrest control of the plane from the terrorist hijackers.

He also will become the second Knoxvillian to be named an Ashe Award recipient. Former Lady Vols basketball coach Pat Summitt was given the award in 2012, the year after she was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Dobson’s mother told the AP of his generous spirit, his passion for football and his protective nature. “I’m just so honored to be his mother,” Zenobia Dobson said.

Zaevion Dobson gave his life so that others might live. The Arthur Ashe Courage Award is a fitting tribute to a teenage boy whose life ended too soon but whose legacy will endure.

Online: https://www.knoxnews.com/


June 28

The Leaf-Chronicle on Pat Summitt:

In every generation there are icons and there are heroes.

These people are lasting images for us, our children and our children’s children.

In times of struggle and strife, their lessons and messages provide stability and strength.

In times of joy and celebration, their successes guide us to lead with character and charisma.

Pat Summitt was both, and there are few - if any - in the modern generation that will be able to rest having earned both distinctions.

She’s a hometown girl who made Clarksville’s little dot on the map a little larger. She brought positive attention to our community, and thrust it onto the global stage as an athlete, a woman and proud American.

Summitt was a shining example of how a woman athlete from a small town in Middle Tennessee could be a beacon of success and empowerment in a man’s world, the sports world.

For ages beyond today, she will continue to embolden and encourage young women and men to achieve greater things than they ever thought possible.

There are few role models more strong and beneficial to our sons and daughters than Summitt.

Summitt understood and challenged us to achieve more. Be more. Reach for more.

She vaulted Tennessee women’s athletics to the stratosphere, and will likely be recognized even more highly than Gen. Robert Neyland or Peyton Manning.

She won more than they did.

She accomplished great feats on the court and hung banners that proved excellence at the game, but her contributions to more than sports put her on a higher pedestal than her partner icons in Knoxville.

She stood against politicians and men to establish high school girl’s basketball - and their role among their male peers - on a level that is equal and fair.

Many of us say that’s trivial, but it was one powerful step toward closing the gap between men’s and women’s athletics, and more importantly, gave young women like Kamiko Williams and Bashaara Graves the opportunity to achieve the same success she did.

She gave young girls hope, and taught men that it was OK for women to be as good as their brothers.

Tennessee’s women’s program is a national power. Some could argue that without Summitt, Geno Auriemma’s women’s program wouldn’t be half as strong or popular if the Lady Vols hadn’t had the leader it did in Summitt.

Parents teach us to reach for the stars and surround ourselves with people who are better than we are, and those who challenge us to improve ourselves.

Pat Head Summitt won’t soon be forgotten.

Someday when little girls and boys look out their windows on their way to their next destination and ask “Who’s Pat Summitt?”

We’ll tell them about the icon and hero that she was. And they’ll be better.

Online: https://www.theleafchronicle.com/

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