published Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

What does equality look like?

“Equal rights aren’t a debate. They should be a given.”

That was a comment made last week by Collegedale Detective Kat Cooper, who after winning the ground-breaking same-sex benefits approval from the Collegedale City Council three months ago, has been helping lead the crusade in Chattanooga, along with City Councilman Chris Anderson, who also is gay.

On Tuesday, a standing-room-only crowd gathered at City Hall for a hearing on Anderson’s proposed domestic partners ordinance. In the council room — capacity 166 listeners, according to the fire marshal (and almost that many standing out in the hall and on the sidewalk) — it was gay and religious tolerance vs. gay and religious intolerance.

Bible verses were thrown about on both sides. Tax and health care cost concerns were raised. Speakers called for social justice. Speakers called for adherence to doctrine. But all were calm — prompted to remain courteous by the unswerving and calm demands of Council Chairman Yusuf Hakeem.

Anderson’s proposal would extend medical and other city benefits to opposite and same-sex domestic partners of city employees. It also proposes updating the city’s nondiscrimination clause to include gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation. Anderson says the matter is both a fairness issue and a business one.

“We are the largest city in Tennessee that can terminate city employees solely due to sexual orientation,” he said. “Changing that must be a part of treating all our employees equally and fairly.”

He’s right, and council members heard from staff advisers that extending benefits to same-sex and other domestic partners would not significantly impact costs in the city. Similar actions in other cities and businesses that have extended benefits over the past decade indicate that Chattanooga’s health cost will increase about 1 percent — $160,000. A plus is that it would help the city be more competitive in attracting and maintaining talented employees, advisers said.

At the meeting’s end, two speakers summed it up best:

Perrin Lance, executive director of Chattanoogans Organized for Action, told the council that everybody has a family, and many families already look “different.” Since his grandparents raised him, his family was different. He says he disagrees with people in Chattanooga who say they support families and unity but are against this proposal.

“This does support families and partnerships and unity. It’s a good thing — not just socially and economical, but spiritually, too.”

The Rev. Ann Weeks also supports the proposal: “This is about social justice, and social justice is what love looks like in public.”

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aae1049 said...

Too bad the TFP, and so called social justice kids do not think the city stripping away health insurance benefits from older workers that worked 20 plus years for the benefit is social injustice and age discrimination.

The city is also A-OK stripping the pensions of older workers. Clearly, the city does not care, and is too busy doling out benefits they are taking from old workers to their political favorites. The city has shown a well defined pattern of taking benefits from older workers, and giving the same to politically preferred class.

While it may feel all warm and fuzzy for the youth and the small special interests, I just have one question. 24 months ago the city cut health insurance to workers some with 20 to 25 years of working towards the health insurance retirement benefit their entire career, and the city claimed they could not afford the health insurance. The workers did not have adequate working career time to establish a viable health savings account to compensate for the rug that was pulled from them.

The city claimed they could not afford to provide the retirees the benefit they had worked for. The health insurance fund is a financial Titanic, and has increased over $10 million dollars is less than 7 years.

What has changed financially in 24 months?

November 6, 2013 at 7 a.m.
fairmon said...

“Equal rights aren’t a debate. They should be a given.”

Assuming you are serious does that apply to those preferring to remain single? It is not for anyone to judge what is moral for someone else. There are two reasons why it is not appropriate to require tax payers to fund marriage, civil unions or contracts between any two people:

1-The fiduciary responsibility of the mayor and council to be good stewards of tax payer money.

2-The discrimination against those preferring to be single should end and not be continuously expanded.

Why do politicians appoint themselves as promoters of marriage or any other cohabitation arrangement? There are over 1000 ways that singles are discriminated against at all government levels, the most obvious is single income tax rates being higher than for a married couple, head of household and other exceptions. A high percent of local property tax dollars goes to education and the school systems, why do singles have to help educate, provide shelter, feed and cloth the rug rats of those that think their role in life is to proliferate? There is no legitimate reason why the mate or any family member should be provided benefits by their employer, citizens of the city.

The only change when comparing this council and mayor to those they replaced with promises of assuring good value per tax dollar are the names of the players.

Those same bible toting holier than thou objectors also condone and encourage the blatant discrimination against singles that are not gay and not seeking marriage or to cohabit in any way.

November 6, 2013 at 8:55 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Amen Brother or Sister. TFP is riddled with liberal bias, they won't even report the city's cost of health insurance, but will post the city's criteria. If you want insurance you will have to sign, "a domestic partner affidavit." They are so funny, until you look at the actual costs $10 million of taxpayer increases in less that 7 years.

November 6, 2013 at 10:22 p.m.
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