When thinking of Taylor Swift, most people still see her as the young country girl who sings love songs. Recently though her image has begun to change due to her beginning to speak publicly about certain issues. 

         Swift, on Aug. 26 at MTV’s Video Music Awards, publicly challenged the White House for the lack of response to the petition to urge the Senate to vote/pass the Equality Act. The Equality Act is meant to give protection to the LGBTQ+ community by mending laws like the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The aim is to protect LGBTQ+ Americans from discrimination in employment, housing, education, and more which is granted to other Americans already. 

          In Swift’s acceptance speech for Video of the Year, she points out that her petition warrants a response from the White House because it has over the required 100,000 signatures. In fact, the petition in question has over half a million signatures so far. The right to petition is protected under the First Amendment and should be respected by the government as such with taking actions accordingly. Swift’s speech at the VMAs actually did get enough attention to receive a response that would likely never have come otherwise. 

          On Aug. 27, the White House responded by stating they do not support the Equality Act because it “is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights.” The fear of some people is that the act will infringe on religious rights by not allowing people to oppose gay people openly. That is the whole point though, gay people should be treated like human beings under the law and not have to fear losing a job or their house for being gay. 

          Swift has not always been outspoken in the political arena though. In an Instagram post from October 2018, she stated her regret for not speaking out during the 2016 election which has been followed by her actively pushing for change and awareness. 

          Critics have spoken out against Swift for her sudden change of heart and continue to bash her for speaking out finally. The thing is though, no one is perfect and people can grow up and change over time. Yes, she has been a public figure for years and private about her views, but it is also important to remember she started as a country music star with a significant following in typically conservative areas. In order to remain relevant enough to get to this point where she has enough “power” to be controversial,  it makes sense she could not speak out and risk alienating her following. 

          At least she has begun to speak out and advocate for women and gay rights though. Swift has actually called more attention to the Equality Act which is a big deal considering it has been around since 2015 and the majority of people did not even know about it. So what if she has not always been a public advocate, at least she is now and is taking steps to better herself. 

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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! 🗳😃🌈

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          To deny people the opportunity to be advocates because of their past is unfair to everyone affected by it. People are allowed to grow up, change their views and push for change, but they also have the right to privacy about their own views as long as they don’t call for harm or hate of others. Allow people the opportunity to become allies even if they haven’t always been.