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Taylor Swift donates $113,000 to defeat Tennessee's 'slate of hate' bills

The “slate of hate” refers to a group of bills advocates have deemed harmful to the state’s LGBTQ community.
Image: Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift arrives at the iHeartRadio Music Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on March 14, 2019.Jordan Strauss / AP file

Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift has donated $113,000 to the Tennessee Equality Project, an organization that lobbies state lawmakers on LGBTQ issues, as it fights Tennessee’s “slate of hate,” a group of bills advocates have deemed harmful to the state’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.

“Taylor Swift has been a long-time ally to the LGBTQ community,” the organization’s executive director, Chris Sanders, wrote in a Facebook message announcing her donation. “She sees our struggle in Tennessee and continues to add her voice with so many good people, including religious leaders, who are speaking out for love in the face of fear.”

In his post, which was shared Monday evening, Sanders included an image of a handwritten letter sent to him by Swift.

“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’ in our state legislature,” wrote Swift, who moved to Tennessee when she was a teenager and still has a home in the state. “I’m so grateful that they’re giving all people a place to worship.”

The so-called slate of hate consists of 12 bills introduced by conservative lawmakers in the state. Each of the proposed bills would limit the rights of LGBTQ Tennesseans in some way — from protecting adoption agencies that turn them away, to criminalizing transgender people for using public facilities that align with their gender identity, to banning same-sex marriage.

Swift has been criticized in the past for appearing apolitical. Unlike other celebrities, she did not publicly endorse a candidate in the 2016 presidential election. However, the Grammy- and Emmy-winning musician began sharing her political views during last year’s midterms, when she endorsed Tennessee Democrat Phil Bredesen over Republican Marsha Blackburn for an open U.S. Senate seat. One of Swift’s stated reasons for doing so was her belief that Blackburn would not protect LGBTQ rights.

“As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn,” Swift wrote in an Instagram post at the time. “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.”

Swift’s recent donation was met with approval from LGBTQ advocates, fans and celebrities alike.

“As a gay Tennessean who loves Taylor Swift, one could say this news is ... taylor-made for me,” Nick Morrow, a spokesperson for LGBTQ rights group Human Rights Campaign, wrote on Twitter.

Ellen DeGeneres also weighed in on Swift’s donation. “This lit up my heart,” the comedian and television host wrote.