Smith: CITY SPOTLIGHT: Council wrong on benefits

Smith: CITY SPOTLIGHT: Council wrong on benefits

November 18th, 2013 By Robin Smith in Opinion Columns

Robin Smith

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

In Chattanooga, five members of the City Council are doing the bidding of Mayor Andy Berke to enact new "criteria requirements" that would give taxpayer-funded benefits to the "domestic partners," both heterosexual and homosexual.

This new City Council and mayor were all on the ballot just over eight months ago. Recent election promises heralded fiscal discipline, creating jobs, and "listening to the citizens" of Chattanooga.

Mayor Berke even discouraged two Republican businessmen from entering the race against him through his assurances that he would govern, not as a liberal Democrat, but a non-partisan.

There's a trend these days of having politicians tickle the ears of voters with appealing rhetoric then govern under the banner of their true colors.

The resolution supported by the formerly "non-partisan" Berke and five "fiscally disciplined" City Council members creates a set of government criteria that define a committed relationship.

The Domestic Partnership Resolution states, "A domestic partnership can be formed if certain criteria are met..." with several points following that include "the city employee and domestic partner have chosen to share one another's lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring..." and provide "an Affidavit of Domestic Partnership" to include certain documents proving a shared financial investment placing these folks in a registry that will be monitored for compliance.

The opposition of this resolution is two-fold: fiscal inconsistency and moral objections.

The financial argument involves spending money on non-employees for benefits through a newly created definition of partnership, while current and retired actual employees have had benefits cut with an effort ongoing to reform the Police/Fire Pension, both in the name of "costs."

The moral argument is based on the beliefs of most Chattanooga citizens who identify with the Judeo-Christian definition of marriage as a covenant between one man and one woman. This moral stance opposes the political attempt to make creeping changes in redefining marriage. This stance is also codified by Tennessee's Constitution.

On the financial front, when has our government ever been accurate on a budget? How often have we seen politicians embellish the truth to serve a special interest? Is this City Council being fair to one group of non-employees at the expense of the sacrifice of another group, existing employees?

Trust is a problem.

Regarding the values argument, there is no "leaving your values at the door." This condescending demand is directed at those of Judeo-Christian faith, under the false assumption that the values-neutral stance is to embrace all relationships as equal.

There is no values-neutral position. Every individual subscribes and employs a set of values in their life. Those values are either driven by a belief in God or a god, which is usually Self.

While some embrace the "Biblical buffet"-approach, selecting some Bible Scripture to fit one's cultural convenience while ignoring others out of personal distaste, many create their own values based on their personal needs and ideas.

Have the supporters of the newly defined partnership avoided marginalizing and demonizing those honest enough to identify with a set of values? Have the supporters succeeded in demonstrating the very "fairness" they claim to represent?

The facts say, "No."

Robin Smith served as chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party, 2007 to 2009. She is a partner at the SmithWaterhouse Strategies business development and strategic planning firm and serves on Tennessee's Economic Council on Women.