"Culture War" Just Beginning In Chattanooga - And Response (5)

Friday, November 15, 2013 - by David Fowler

Some say the Battle of Chattanooga was the beginning of the end in the War Between the States, as the defeat of Confederate troops opened the door for Sherman’s march to Atlanta and on to the sea.  When it comes to the “culture war” in Tennessee, before the end of the month, all eyes may again be on Chattanooga.

This week, Chattanooga became the first of Tennessee’s four largest cities to vote on an ordinance that essentially redefined marriage. The ordinance redefines marriage by saying that, with respect to city employees, marriage is no different as a matter of public policy than any other relationship between two people, unrelated by blood or marriage, who are having sex with each other.

In other words, if a city employee is living with someone who isn’t related to him or her by blood or marriage, and is having sex with that other person, then the sexual partner and any children who may be dependent on them can get health insurance.

The vote, five to four in favor of redefining marriage, will have to be repeated a second time this coming Tuesday before the ordinance becomes final. But if some citizens in Chattanooga have their way, that won’t be the end of it.

Some Chattanoogans have announced they are coming together to take advantage of their referenda rights under the city’s charter.  Voters in Chattanooga will get the chance to go to the polls and rescind the ordinance if just fewer than 5,000 of them sign a petition before the 25th of November to put it on the ballot.

While the definition of marriage is the front line issue in the “culture war,” it is not just the so-called “religious right” that may take up arms.  Others may be disturbed by the Council’s vote than just those who believe the proposed ordinance denigrates marriage to nothing more than two people who live together and have sex.

Actually, many are upset that in 2010 the city had to cut insurance benefits for certain retired employees because the city didn’t have enough money.  In other words, the city didn’t have enough money to continue providing what it had promised.  Now it supposedly has enough money to fund an unpredictable liability to care for those who aren’t actually even employees.

And, speaking of employees, as it was noted by one council member who opposed the ordinance, there are some who work for the city who do not get access to any health insurance benefits.  Not enough money for that either.

Some are rightly concerned that the cost to taxpayers for city employee health insurance has gone up by about fifty percent in the last six years.  Of course, that’s before the unknown costs taxpayers will have to shoulder due to the Obamacare debacle.

There are many reasons why Chattanooga taxpayers might not think it prudent to begin adding people who are not employees onto the taxpayers’ payroll. On account of these legitimate fiscal issues, there are likely many who believe the five council members in support of the ordinance were motivated by nothing more than a desire to advance a social agenda

Some have rightly asked, “If this was such an important issue, why did not one member of the Council talk about this issue in the election campaigns completed just a few months ago?”  It appears that not even the sponsor of the ordinance campaigned on it.

The opportunity for Chattanoogans to express themselves on the politics of the candidates who foisted a surprise issue on them is still a few years away.   However, in a few weeks, we’ll find out how many Chattanoogans are interested in resisting the divisiveness and expense of the culture war that has been foisted on them by homosexual activists.  The current-day battle of Chattanooga has begun.

David Fowler

Family Action Council

* * *

Oh please, it won't be a "culture war" taking place, it will be a "vulture war," when all of the appropriate politicians and religious leaders jump on the gay-bashing bandwagon yet again, in an effort to throw some red meat to their base for future elections and/or donations. Voters are so easily manipulated by hate and anger that stunts like this will almost assure their re-election, all accomplished without having to actually offer any meaningful legislation or solve any actual problems. Pretty slick how "moral outrage" can keep taking the place of doing your job. Works at the state level, so why not here too?

Herb Montgomery
Chattanooga 

* * * 

Gay bashing? God wasn't "gay bashing."  He said, "Thou shalt not." 

 You better wake up and smell the embers, Herb.

Michael Burns 

* * * 

I am not really sure that allowing someone’s “significant other” to share in benefits can be defined as a “culture war.”  Here’s a thought, get your government out of the business of regulating marriage.  Why should I have to go down to city hall for a “permit” to get married?  And, frankly, what two people do in the privacy of their own home is none of your business.  

All of you holy rollers should think about the “casting of stones” thingy that Jesus talked about before you open your mouths.  Worry about things that really matter. 

Robert Harvey
Chattanooga 

* * * 

As long as the taxpayers are being ask to fund an expansion of benefits to VBF’s that live together, it is indeed the people’s business.  The city of Chattanooga will expend $35 million on healthcare benefit this year. So let me assure you, it is the people’s business. 

The healthcare benefits are so costly, the city opted to literally dump retirees from the health insurance benefits that  worked for the benefit their entire career, some as long as 24 years. In July 2010, the city notified the older employees their retirement insurance benefit was being cut. Cutting the benefit of older workers due to cost, and now expanding to non-employees that are VBF’s with city workers, just smacks in the face of the older workers. 

It is outrageous that this new group of non-employee VBF’s will be able to access city pharmacy and health facilities, and the actual employees that gave a lifetime of service will be barred from accessing city health facilities as they age. It is age discrimination, anyway you dice it. 

Finally, in 2006, by a vote of 81 percent, state of the Tennessee voters defined marriage as between one woman and one man.   The city of Chattanooga has marginalized the value of marriage by redefining it contrary to what the voters of Tennessee decided.  Your beef is with the voters of Tennessee. 

Another referendum would produce a similar result. The ordinance passed in first reading by city council, would not pass the voter test if placed on a ballot for referendum. They know it, and that is why the voters are being silenced in this matter. 

April Eidson 

* * * 

April, you had me until the last two paragraphs.  If this is about the city's treatment of retirees and the ability to afford additional benefits, then I believe it is a valid genuine argument.  Of course this cost will primarily come from the additions made by heterosexual couples as one of the biggest costs of group insurance is young woman of child bearing age (due to pregnancy costs) and older people of both genders.  

This ruling applies to both sexual orientations and should not be about gay marriage.  If you're in a relationship, your partner's concerns (domestic, legal or otherwise) do factor into your decisions.  I can see how this would affect the ability to attract and retain employees.  I am well aware God said "Thou shalt not."  Did Jesus say "Love your neighbor as yourself, except..."? 

Matthew DeGlopper 

* * * 

I think you are correct in your anger toward retiree benefits. I 100 percent support your fight to reinstate those slashed benefits for our older citizens who have served our city. So often they are the demographic that is forgotten and abandoned. What I don't agree with is your direction of approach.  

What so many seem to forget it that our city is in a very polarizing position. No matter which way to vote lands, approximately half the citizens will feel their vote did not count and their voice is not being heard. I personally support the idea that we should allow benefits to same-sex partners. Who am I to say who a person can and cannot love and commit themselves? However, in order to ensure that the system is not being taken advantage of, we should move forward with recognizing a new definition of marriage. The definition provided is archaic and does not fit in today's world. I am in agreement with Donna Brazile's definition. "Marriage is an institution intended for two people who love one another, who want to commit to lifetime bonding as mates, and to form a family, whether it's only the two of them, or also includes children." 

Some will argue that sanctity of marriage should be upheld. I for one, believe that is a battle long lost. Let marriage be held in honor among all. If the fight for the sanctity of marriage had a true foothold, citizens would address the issue of divorce and adultery. However, no one really seems to want to discuss the epidemic of unfaithfulness or broken vows and promises made before God. 

Mary Smith



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