Chattanooga City Council and "Benefits and Equity Ordinance - WSMV News 4

Chattanooga City Council discusses "Benefits and Equity Ordinance"

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One more opportunity Tuesday night for Chattanooga residents to speak out, for or against a new measure that would offer benefits to domestic partners of city employees.

It's called the "Benefits and Equity Ordinance".  It defines "domestic partners", sets up eligibility requirements, instructs what the termination of such a partnership would entail. And rewrites some discrimination and harassment rules.

Council members will vote next week, but Tuesday they discussed the details and heard from their constituents.

Another packed city council meeting. Another lively discussion. One more opportunity for the public to speak.

Arguments for and against the domestic partner benefits ordinance came from many points of view.

Religion, "I'm astounded that people that call themselves followers of this amazing teacher would be working so hard to treat their neighbor so much worse than themselves."

"Jesus, who said 'love your neighbor' also in his book said 'marriage is honorable' and he also said 'for this call shall a man leave father and mother and cleave unto his wife.' I'm not here to speak against anybody. I really wish I didn't have the 'against' ticket. I'd like to speak for something. I'd like to speak for marriage."

Some questioned the Council's intent.

"You can't qualify if you're a relative. Well, why? I mean, does it have to be a sexual relationship to go with this? If so, do you check them to see what kind of sexual relationship they have?"

Others, what else the 10-page ordinance would affect.

"If a male identifies, a male employee of the city self-identifies or expresses as female, goes into the female bathroom at city hall, and a female city employee objects, she makes a statement, she makes verbal conduct to that man going into the women's bathroom, that's harassment."

Those in favor, a well-organized faction dressed in red, said a negative vote would demoralize some employees.

"There are members of the workforce here in the city that will be affected by this; that will have to make decisions."

Workers like 26 year vet Lt. Corliss Cooper.
"We work, we pay our bills, we laugh, we share a home, and we enjoy our families. We contribute to society like everyone else in this city."

The first vote, or 'first reading' of what's called the "Benefits and Equity Ordinance" is set for the 12th with the second and final vote scheduled for the 19th.

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