It sounds like a town in a comic book, you know, but it’s a real pace in Tennessee, and starting today it has become the first city in Tennessee to offer benefits to same-sex spouses of its government employees.
A wee town; in Tennessee.
Of course, as happens, it didn’t come about without some joyful and noise and some disheartened weeping, after the meeting at Collegedale City Hall last Monday night, but the fact remains that this town is talking a stand toward equality.
Resident Dolly Fillman worries that the new policy is “condoning same-sex marriage,” when it’s really condoning equality.
See, for Collegedale Detective Kat Cooper, the new policy means her wife can finally have insurance coverage: “It is such a huge weight off our shoulders. We don’t have to constantly worry about health expenses or sudden emergencies. It’s hard to explain how much this means to us.”
It means equality.
Kat Cooper started this fight to change the policy after she was denied family health coverage for her wife, Krista; the women were married in Maryland last spring.
And, even better than the fact that Collegedale has changed its policy is the news that, of the five-member commission, all but one voted for the change. The lone ‘No’ vote was Mayor John Turner, who said he voted for the 74 people who had reached out to him opposing the policy: “That’s what we’re supposed to do as elected officials, represent the people of our district.”
True dat, Mayor, but, um, aren’t you supposed to represent all of the people?
The idea that Collegedale was planning this vote brought all kinds of people from out of the woodwork, and even from out of town. Signal Mountain mother Juliet Jackson made signs urging people to “speak up for traditional marriage” and said, “I feel like the conservative voice isn’t heard. We’re bombarded by the other side. A disagreement is not hatred. … I think we should be able to respect one another.”
Respect me when you work to deny me equality? Tell me how that actually works Juliet.
But, not all conservatives had a dim view of the fight for equality. Neil Lane, a Collegedale resident who calls himself a Christian, said he was ashamed that people would take a stand against “just plain fairness.”
“The pulpit should be saved for the church,” he said.
|Kat & Krista Cooper|
Still, both sides were heard from during the debate that preceded the vote, but Kat Cooper stood up and talked about her struggle to have her marriage treated like other employees:
“It should be of no importance to my employer if my lifelong commitment is made to a man or a woman — both are equal. Small ripples can precipitate huge waves. In this case, a great opportunity lies in your hands.”
Another resident, Jeff Walton agreed with Cooper’s description, but admitted that “waves” would be detrimental, though he said, “Collegedale can look forward. Show them you are not a backwater little town.”
Well, you might be a backwater little town, but you’ve made a big splash, both in Tennessee, and around the country.
The march goes on ... from Collegedale.