Chris Anderson’s election was and is a major accomplishment for our city. He represented a new era. A new perspective. A renewed sense of community. Anderson was not elected because of his sexual orientation. He was elected because he offered something fresh to the constituents of District 7.
Anderson being a gay man was no surprise to those who elected him. He made no qualms about it. There was no parade down Market Street. And he won with a sizeable majority of the votes. As a young gay man living in Chattanooga, I saw the election of Anderson as a catalyst for dialogue. It is easy to watch politics in other parts of the nation but to experience it firsthand means that a discussion I had hoped for was finally taking place. For the first time, I saw a heart-felt confrontation between Chattanooga voters with the fact that we have elected officials, co-workers, neighbors, friends, and even family members who are, in fact, gay.
Since his election, Councilperson Anderson has exhibited great leadership skills. Not once has he shirked the responsibilities of the office he holds. He has fought for all employees of Chattanooga – regardless of their sexual orientation. It was refreshing to see the passage of the Domestic Partner Benefits ordinance on its first vote. It was exhilarating to see its subsequent passage on the final vote. Even though the Domestic Partners ordinance would not directly benefit me (I don't work for the city), I was excited to see its passage because it meant for the first time that brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and even my neighbors would finally be treated as equals. It was truly a new day in Chattanooga. It has saddened and disheartened me to see the local Tea Party and right-wing Christians working so hard to yank this stepping-stone out from under us all.
The recent announcement of the Tea Party-led recall petition has left me flabbergasted. It is clear to me that the right-wing vendetta is no longer limited to just legislation. It is now about Chris Anderson.
For what? For striving to provide equality in the workplace? For being his brother’s keeper? No, it is because Chris Anderson is gay. The victories of equality are hard-fought. Equality for our gay brothers and sisters has morphed into the civil rights movement of today. Those opposed will ultimately be relegated, alongside those who were opposed to Women’s Suffrage, the Civil Rights Act, and Loving v. Virginia, to the dusty pages of history. Which side will you be on?