By Rachel Savage
LONDON, April 9 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) — Pop superstar Taylor Swift has donated $113,000 to an LGBTQ group to support its fight against laws in the US state of Tennessee that would roll back gay and transgender rights, according to the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP).
Swift, who began her career in Nashville, Tennessee, made the contribution to the TEP, which is campaigning to stop bills that would let adoption agencies block LGBTQ people and defy a 2015 federal ruling allowing same-sex marriage.
The so-called "Slate of Hate" before state legislature also includes measures to defend state school officials that make trans people use toilets and changing rooms corresponding to their "biological sex."
"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,'" Swift, 29, wrote in a note dated April 8 to TEP's director.
Same-sex marriage was legalized throughout the United State in 2015 after a Supreme Court ruling.
However, some states have tried to row back on LGBTQ rights. A North Carolina law requiring trans people to use bathrooms matching their birth sex was repealed in 2017 after a year, following businesses and sports leagues boycotting the state.
Tennessee is ranked as one of the country's most religious states by the Pew Research Center with 73% of adults "highly religious" and 52% of the population evangelical protestants.
The TEP said in a Facebook post late on Monday that Swift had been a long-time ally to the LGBTQ community. The post included a photo of Swift's note.
"@TaylorSwift13, this lit up my heart," tweeted talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres, whose sitcom was canceled a year after she came out as gay in an episode in 1997.
Swift broke her silence on her political views before the US 2018 midterm elections in an Instagram post saying she supported Democrat candidates due to the incumbent Senator Marsha Blackburn's anti-LGBTQ and women's rights voting record.
"I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG," she said in that post.
I’m writing this post about the upcoming midterm elections on November 6th, in which I’ll be voting in the state of Tennessee. In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent. I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love. Running for Senate in the state of Tennessee is a woman named Marsha Blackburn. As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. 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. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives. Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values. For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100% on every issue, but we have to vote anyway. So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count. But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do. October 9th is the LAST DAY to register to vote in the state of TN. Go to vote.org and you can find all the info. Happy Voting! 🗳😃🌈
Swift was unavailable for comment.
(Reporting by Rachel Savage @rachelmsavage; editing by Belinda Goldsmith Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBTQ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)