Mar 8, 2023 - Things to Do

Maren Morris, Jason Isbell to sing at LGBTQ+ benefit

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

A coalition of musicians including Maren Morris, Hozier, Jason Isbell and Sheryl Crow are coming together for a benefit concert that will funnel money toward local LGBTQ+ organizations.

  • The March 20 "Love Rising" benefit at Bridgestone Arena was organized in response to a wave of legislation targeting the state's LGBTQ+ population.

The latest: Tickets go on sale Wednesday at 10am.

  • "Let's show these politicians that they do not speak for all of Tennessee," Maren Morris said on Instagram. "Love will prevail."

Why it matters: Tennessee has emerged as a leader in a multi-state effort to legislate on LGBTQ+ issues this year. Republicans so far have enacted laws designed to restrict public drag performances and ban gender-affirming care for minors.

  • Several other measures are still pending.

Driving the news: While conservatives have embraced this kind of legislation for years, LGBTQ+ advocates say the General Assembly is doubling down with an even more intense focus on gender expression and sexuality in 2023.

  • "They're digging in and not backing down as easily now," Tennessee Equality Project executive director Chris Sanders tells Axios.
  • "It's not just a message but it's an approach that's different."

State of play: Republicans frame this legislation on drag performances and gender-affirming care as efforts to protect children. Advocacy groups are meeting it with intense pushback. On Tuesday, the Human Rights Campaign ran a full-page ad in the Tennessean featuring an old yearbook photo of Gov. Bill Lee wearing women's clothes.

  • The ad asks readers to tell Lee "to stop legislating hate."
  • The HRC is hosting a rally Thursday at Tribe that will feature the national advocacy group's president Kelley Robinson.

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