Chris Anderson: The Truth About The Non-Discrimination And Domestic Partner Ordinance

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

There has been a lot of debate regarding the ordinance I sponsored last Fall, its passage by City Council, and its subsequent ballot referendum. I am glad that people are engaged on this issue. The intent of this letter to the editor is to remind people it is on the ballot and what the ordinance actually does. It doesn't redefine marriage; cities cannot do that. It doesn't bankrupt the city; those who cry foul about the cost should see how much we spend on lesser known things without incident or protest. If it passes, the city of Chattanooga will treat all its employees the same; just like Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Tennessee, Unum, Volkswagen, Amazon, and countless other Chattanooga-area employers. If it fails, it will continue to be legal for the city to terminate someone merely because they are gay. Chattanooga Police Captain Corliss Cooper was recently promoted from the rank of Lieutenant, after nearly 30 years of service protecting our community. She married her wife last Fall and should be entitled to the same employee benefits as her other counterparts. Captain Cooper is the perfect example of who this would affect. I am not, because I don't meet the strict criteria I wrote into the law.

In my 16 months on the council, I have encountered many issues and worked on them accordingly. When I ran, I didn't know what the legislative calendar would bring. I could not have predicted that the sound ordinance would be such a big deal in year two. A flying doughnut mural controversy is another surprise I was not expecting. While the bulk of my time is spent on constituent requests and neighborhood issues like repaving roads in St. Elmo and getting a new park for Alton Park, the press will absolutely never care about that or cover it. If you only go by the newspapers, I have spent all my time on the Non-Discrimination ordinance and Urban Chickens. A reasonable person knows that isn't true. Candidates run for office on a general platform but can't possibly predict every issue that will occupy their time over the next four years. Nor can a candidate or elected official control what the press covers or doesn't. 

Since there is so much misinformation about this hot-button issue, I thought it would be best to simply put out the facts so voters can make an informed decision. Here is a link to the actual ordinance language:

http://elect.hamiltontn.gov/polls_ballots/ballots/12781%20Domestic%20Partnership%20and%20Non%20Discrimination.pdf

As you can see from the language, a domestic partnered couple must demonstrate a level of financial and personal commitment to each other that even many married couples cannot demonstrate. Further, this is not about benefits decisions made by prior administrations regarding retirees. That is a separate issue for which no opponent of my measure has offered any solution. They merely use it as a distraction from what the real effect of this ordinance is. 

I'm sure there are many good people in Chattanooga who will vote on both sides of this issue. It would be travesty, however, for someone to cast a vote based on incorrect information. A for vote will add sexual orientation to our non-discrimination clause and offer domestic partner benefits to our employees who meet several strict guidelines. Employees will still have to pay for those benefits; they simply will need to buy into the plan as many do now. The cost is roughly .08% (less than one-tenth of one percent) of our annual budget and will bring us in line with other competitive employers. An against vote would not enact this language or offer these equal benefits. 

My position on this is well-known, so I'm not asking you to vote my way. I'm simply asking for you to make an educated decision based on facts, not hype. Take a few minutes and review the ordinance. If you approve, vote for. If you don't, vote against. Either way, the city will still be standing the day after the election and life will go on.

Chris Anderson

Chattanooga City Council

District 7

 



No Greater Love

On this Memorial  Day, our collective thoughts as Americans turn to those men and women throughout the history of our nation who gave their all so that we might continue to enjoy the "blessings of liberty." Whether those unselfish patriots laid down their lives in 1776 as a result of "the shot heard 'round the world" or perhaps more recently as our fellow citizens gave their ... (click for more)

Memorial Auditorium Flag Disgrace

How can it be that Memorial Auditorium, which was built to honor soldiers and sailors, displays our country’s flag in such a disgraceful manner?  Out of six poles on the front of the building only two battered flags remain.  Additionally, two old banners are attached to the wall that have long ago faded and look like they’ve seen better days. This is not acceptable ... (click for more)

Woman, 25, Dies From Wreck On Barton Avenue

A 25-year-old woman has died from injuries received in a head-on accident on Barton Avenue in North Chattanooga on Saturday. The victim was Stephanie Kilburn . At approximately 2:25 p.m. , the Chattanooga Police Department responded to 800 Barton Ave. on an accident with injuries. V ehicle 1 was traveling southbound on Barton Avenue and failed to stop at a stop ... (click for more)

City Seeking Grant To Improve Signals At 32 Intersections

The city is seeking a $2 million federal grant to go along with $500,000 in city funds for a project to improve signals at 32 intersections. There would also be bike and pedestrian improvements. The routes include Brainerd Road, Lee Highway, Shallowford Road, Gunbarrel Road and Hamilton Place Boulevard. The application is for a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Grant. (click for more)

Gilpin, Stocks Victorious In Chattanooga Chase 8K

John Gilpin has done plenty of training in North Chattanooga and is very familiar with the Chattanooga Chase and the series of hills the oldest race in Chattanooga is known for. Jennifer Stocks has done more than her share of workouts on those roads, so she was fully aware of the challenge she faced when the starting horn sounded. Both were overall winners in this unique 8K ... (click for more)

Golf and Chattanooga Have Lost Another Oehmig

  It was a classic Father’ Day golf picture. No, not Jack and Arnie and their kids relaxing at Augusta National with the Dogwoods blooming. But the Oehmig men – Lew, the family patriarch, with his youngest son, King, and his then two grade school age sons Henry and John, all crowded into, what else, a golf cart and donning that Oehmig glasses look – round, turtle shell-colored ... (click for more)