Change comes to Tennessee: Small town votes for equal benefits

Updated
 

Police officer Kat Cooper of Collegedale, Tennessee, had been asking for health benefits for her partner, Krista, since 2006. Collegedale, a town of 6,500 east of Chattanooga, turned her down in 2006 and 2009. Newly married, Cooper asked again for the chance to cover her wife in 2012. The answer again was no.

But she kept asking. On Monday, Collegedale became the first place in Tennessee to offer family health insurance to all employees who are married, whether they’re straight or gay. “Small ripples can precipitate huge waves,” Detective Cooper told the Collegedale City Council on Monday (video below). The council then voted for equal benefits by four to one.

At some point, it won’t be surprising anymore to see change beginning in places where we don’t now expect that.

In January, little Vicco, Kentucky, became the smallest town in the country to pass an ordinance banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Several people commenting on this blog have mentioned town ordinances already passed in Idaho, and a new one is now being considered.

As for Collegedale, the state representative for the Human Rights Campaign told the local paper that in small towns, familiarity leads to progress.

“One of the things I think is interesting is that it’s not a big city-small city issue,” said [Kate] Oakley. “There’s something to be said in a small community – where you actually know the people who are working for the city and you want to do the right thing for them.”

Much of the press about Collegedale’s decision so far has been about the town’s history as a Seventh Day Adventist community. A church representative says they see this as a city matter and intend to stay out of it.

H/t Dan Buchanan on our Facebook page.

Marriage Equality, Tennessee, Civil Rights, Rachel Maddow Show Blue Dots and Collegedale

Change comes to Tennessee: Small town votes for equal benefits

Updated