One of the primary messages that is repeated over and over by Councilman Chris Anderson, Mayor Berke and their supporters is that their "Benefits and Equity Ordinance" is all about equality. Sounds all fair and good on the surface. But if one takes just a minute to read the Summary of the Ordinance provided by Mr. Anderson and the Office of the City Attorney, which has also been fully embraced by the mayor, it's abundantly clear that they never had any intentions of being fair or seeking equity.
I have said for some time that this ordinance should be renamed the "Sex" ordinance because that is clearly the identifying characteristic of the relationships to be covered by this ordinance - they must include a sexual component. And if there is no sex, then you get no benefits.
Doubt it? Then here's proof. The Summary of Benefits & Equity Ordinance states this:
"The city employee and domestic partner cannot be lineal ancestors or descendants or related to a degree of kinship that would prevent marriage under the laws of the State of Tennessee."
Yes, you read that correctly. Incredibly the ordinance, proffered by self-professed homosexual Councilman Chris Anderson, specifically excludes family members from qualifying for the benefit. So if you happen to be a single individual working for the city of Chattanooga and your brother, sister, mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle, older adult daughter or son live with you, then you and they get nothing. Nada. These long-time family relationships qualify for exactly zero of these benefits.
So much for equality.
So much for fairness.
So much for "equal benefits for equal work" - the slogan Anderson and his followers love to chant every time a TV camera is around.
In addition to the deception of Councilman Anderson, Mayor Berke and their supporters, what is beyond belief is that they then chose to disqualify all of these individuals from receiving these sex-based benefits under the excuse that the marriage laws of the State of Tennessee would not recognize them as being able to marry legally.
Are you serious?
Meanwhile Anderson and Berke want to ignore and violate the Tennessee Constitution that clearly defines that marriage is between one man and one woman and does not recognize common law marriages.
What hypocrisy. If ever there was an ordinance that is blatantly unequal, unfair and serves to benefit the individual proffering this ill conceived initiative it is the "Benefits & Equity Ordinance" aka the Sex Ordinance.
If you agree that this is a horrible ordinance and deserves to be defeated, call or email your city councilman and the mayor, and ask your friends to do the same. You can make a difference if you chose to engage in this battle.
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Mark West offers a very interesting point of view in his opinion regarding the domestic partner benefits ordnance as proposed by Councilman Anderson. There seems to be an easy solution to his problem... let's go ahead an legalize marriage to our siblings. Problem solved. On the bright side, we wouldn't be hurting the already stellar reputation of how the South is perceived by the rest of our nation.
Almost every senator in the U.S. Congress voted 'Nay' on the 'Employment Non-Discrimination Act', including our two Congressman from Tennessee. History repeats itself as this was almost the same exact voting record of the same states when the Jim Crow laws were repealed and women were given the right to vote. Thankfully, enough senators took the side of reasonable human beings and passed the act.
For those who attended the City Council meeting this week which showcased public opinion about the ordinance, a sincere thank you is in order to all of you that were present. Even the Council chairmen thanked everyone for their civility after the meeting.
However, during the speeches of those who opposed the ordinance, some of the most ridiculous, ludicrous, fear mongering, 'hell fire and brimstone' comparisons and reasons were put forth to the council. It sounded like the start of a really bad joke: "Tornadoes, Hitler, Wikipedia, chess clocks and the doppelganger domestic partner police walk into a gay bar...".
Chattanooga needs to be on the right side of the issue. If the South isn't ready for 'gay marriage, 'then the ability of those in committed relationships, who are not allowed to marry, should receive the exact same benefits.
For those of you who us Biblical references to denounce and dehumanize your fellow Chattanoogans, I'll leave you with this true life story.
Two men have been in a 25+ year committed relationship filled with the same love, hardships, compromises, wonderful memories and struggles as any other loving couple would endure. One partner in this couple is struck by the vehicle driven by a drunk driver. This partner, while in the ICU, was not permitted to be seen by his long term partner because he was not 'next of kin' nor was allowed the designation of domestic partner. He was forbidden to see his loved one before he passed. His last breath was taken, alone, in a hospital, while the person he dedicated his life to two walls and 15 feet away.
If Jesus Christ Himself, were standing between those two walls, what would He have done? Would He have stood by the laws made by man and kept two sets of locked doors between two loving people? Or would He have taken the hand of one, led him to the bedside of his soon to pass partner, and prayed with them together?
Only one person could answer this hypothetical question, and everyone will stand before Him one day and hear his answer.
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The Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) did not pass Congress yesterday. It was only approved by a majority in the Senate, without adoption of proposed amendments by Republicans, and forwarded to the House. It is dead on arrival in the House.
The Speaker has indicated that he does not plan to bring it to the floor for consideration. So don't count your chickens before they hatch.