If you are a taxpayer that doesn’t want your taxpayer dollars funding health benefits for unmarried domestic partners and their children, then you should sign the petition. After signing the petition though, you should stand by your convictions and make sure none of your dollars fund these benefits.
That means you need to stop shipping packages via UPS or Fed Ex. You’ll have to opt out of your own company’s insurance from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, Cigna or Unum. No more shopping at Target, Sears, Costco, Best Buy or Home Depot. Don’t even think about owning a Volkswagen, Ford or Nissan. Close your bank accounts at First Tennessee Bank. And Regions Bank and SunTrust Bank. Cancel your upcoming holiday visit to Atlanta and forget about Vols games in Knoxville next year or the Kentucky Derby in Louisville. No more flights (Boeing) or cell phone service (Verizon or AT&T).
You see, all of those organizations, and countless more, provide domestic partner benefits. Many have for years. And the funny thing is, the end of the world did not occur. No fire and brimstone. No one turned into pillars of salt. Just some benefits for some people that deserve them.
So it’s pretty simple. If you are going to sign the petition, then you need to boycott the hundreds of companies and cities that offer domestic partner benefits. Otherwise, your moral argument is one you've just lost.
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In response to the article by Martin Knowles, I would like to remind him of a fact that he didn't mention, and that would be that of all the business organizations he mentioned providing same sex benefits, none pay those benefits with taxpayers money.
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The domestic partner ordinance petition falls short.
In my opinion, the city should not allow any spouse or child of a city employee to be covered under the employee’s health insurance policy. If the spouse or child(ren) do not also work directly for the city, why should we, the taxpayers pay in part for their healthcare?
Perhaps the city could simply increase pay to allow the singular city employee to pay for their own insurance. An additional $2 per hour comes out to $320 per month so that should cover each individual’s insurance cost. Let’s eliminate this benefit all together.
How many city employees are involved in handling the red tape dealing with health insurance? The city could eliminate these positions and reduce complexity.
One quick phone call to the city revealed that there are four people in the city’s benefits department. Surely, we could axe at least one of the four in the department by eliminating health care insurance as a benefit for 2,500 city employees. If this employee is pulling in $50,000 per year, plus another 20 percent for benefits/ employment tax, etc., we’re talking $60,000 in immediate savings. Imagine the collective savings by eliminating some job tasks for other city employees that touch health insurance to some degree at the departmental level – they don’t have to screw with this anymore so there will be additional savings that pile up here too. Surely we’re talking at least $100,000 in savings.
Now, what to do with all of this money? Invest in sustainable jobs for children and stimulate the economy.
Hire the kids to clean out our rancid sewers which also eases the burden for working parents to pay for after school care. Hey, those sewer openings and tunnels are small; we need little people to shimmy their way down there to clean out the gunk. This is the perfect after school job for kids and they can easily work 40 hours and we could pay them minimum wage plus $2 more per hour to cover their individual insurance plan. And the kids learn the value of hard work. This is the perfect job for kids ages 8-12.
Hire graffiti crews to spray paint over this mess. Minimum wage + $2. Ages 12-18.
Purchase more public art.
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Your argument holds no water.
We have the choice to purchase goods and services from companies or not - based upon any number of personal reasons. However, with a city government ordinance, we do not have the choice on whether or not we partake in services - or the lack of - we just have to pay taxes to fund them.
The upside though - is precisely what the petition has brought about: having the people affected make a choice by voting whether or not their tax money is spent on something they do not wish it to.
It is interesting that liberals are all for free speech - when they agree with what is being said; and it is even more interesting that liberals are all for democracy - when it favors their point of view.
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If any of the companies you named decided to put a special charge on those who opposed the domestic partner's benefit ordinance, then these companies would indeed open themselves to a citizen's effort to reverse this action. Opponents of this ordinance do not wish to deprive any company or individual of the right to believe as they wish not to exercise their rights to express their will. The Chattanooga City Council voted to use taxpayer funds to fund a new privilege which violated the will of a large number of citizens in Chattanooga.
If these companies had used their influence to persuade the citizens of Chattanooga to defeat the petition drive, that might have opened them up to the kind of boycott you mentioned. Your letter intended to ridicule the petition effort and only reveals that you do not believe in what one councilwoman called a "true exercise of democracy."
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Mr. Richey has probably never heard of Medicare and Medicaid.
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Thoughtful and very well written, Mr. Knowles. Yes, he mentioned cities, ones more progressive and fair who do, in fact, pay for these benefits out of their tax funded budgets. Two of the three banks mentioned took massive amounts of bailout funds, taxpayer monies. VW and Nissan got huge taxpayer benefits to outbid other municipalities to locate where they did. So in the case of VW, all you "westites" have another gripe against them, another area beyond just their desire to unionize where you can feel obligated to tell them how to do their business which has been very successful without your input. Then be prepared to wave goodbye when they get fed up with the closed minds.
As far as those not directly tax supported, why would you as "westites" choose to pay these evil companies who obviously have no moral base? Martin is right, if you don't take real stands, across the board, what kind of hypocrites are you?
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Westites? I think you will find that there are two very different groups who are opposed to the ordinance. Those who are morally opposed to homosexuality and those who are opposed to expanding out the city's liability. We all know what the morale nay-sayers have to say, but it is an easy target to lump everyone in as being religious bigots.
Westites? Have you looked into anything Mr. West has said? I don't know about you, but I haven't seen him thumping a Bible and preaching Sodom and Gomorrah. Instead, it seems to be more about government accountability and fairness to the former employees who were dropped. Have the church groups rallied behind him? Yep, and we all knew that they would oppose it (surprise).
I think you will find a large portion of the Chattanooga population who wouldn't mind giving these benefits to homosexuals. Not everyone else. Instead of tackling this ordinance like a sniper, Councilman Anderson implemented the shotgun approach, and there is a lot of unintended consequences to the ordinance. If anyone points out the law of unintended consequences, they are a bigot or now a "Westite."
Councilman Anderson's election is proof that Tennesseans are becoming more comfortable with the idea of homosexuals. It is also important to mention that he didn't mention this at all in campaign. As I told him in a personal letter, he should have used his position of power to fight Tennessee's definition of marriage instead of sneakily forcing this through. Imagine: he uses his position and media attention to be an advocate to the guys in Nashville. The media would love it and it would be all over the news. He could create a voice and a much bigger change across the state. There would be no need for this kind of ordinance in every Collegedale, Chattanooga and all the other cities that will never pass anything like this. Instead, he chose to force an unpopular ordinance through and now has to deal with the collateral damage.
Maybe the next gay councilman can fight for our rights <sigh>