Extending benefits to the same-sex partners of city employees in Chattanooga maybe a step closer. We now know when the Chattanooga City Council will take up a vote on the issue.
For more than eight weeks the talks of extending benefits to the partners of same sex city employees has been a topic at City Council. Colledgedale becoming the first city in Tennessee to implement the new policy and soon after, moved the discussion along in Chattanooga. Now that we have a set voting date, those who are for and against it are pushing their views more than ever.
The City of Chattanooga employs more than 27 hundred people.City officials say 400 of them are eligible to receive health benefits for their same-sex partners. It's an issue that's bringing out strong opinions from both sides.
"I think people feel very strongly whether they are for it or against it. So I think we'll continue to see strong opinions come out," says Chattanooga City Councilman Chris Anderson.
Anderson is the councilman backing the proposal which will be in City Council's hands in just a few days. Which is why other council members, like Yusuf Hakeem believe the community's input is more important than ever.
"When you look at it, this is an issue that people feel very strongly about. We need to have input from citizens in regards to this. You never know. It may sway someone, a council person," says Hakeem.
But news of the proposal did not sway the opinions of some citizens attending the meeting.
"If this is something that is immoral, we believe it to be so, the rest of the taxpayers in this city shouldn't have to pay for something against their moral conviction," says Pastor of Tennessee Temple Baptist Shad Smith.
Many citizens aware of the discussion happening at tonight's meeting showed up to take a stand. Some getting a standing ovation from their supporting side. In attendance, Collegedale Police Detective Kat Cooper and her family.
"I believe in this time and age, discrimination or treating people in-equitably, it's simply shameful. Anybody who is in on an opposing side of treating people equitably literally they are facilitators of oppression, bigotry and discrimination," says Cooper.
The public meeting will take place Tuesday November 5th at 3:30 at City Hall. The public is welcome to attend.
If the Council decides to pass the first reading on November 12th, the new proposal could take effect as early as November 19th if it passes the second reading.By Alyssa Spirato