Post submitted by Aaron Clapper, HRC field intern
Last week, the City Commission of Collegedale, Tennessee held a preliminary vote moving it a step closer to adapting the existing city employee benefits policy to include same-sex and heterosexual partners of city employees. A final vote on this measure will be held in August. Collegedale will be the first of Tennessee’s 364 cities to pass an inclusive employee benefits plan.
The legislation was brought to the attention of the Commission by a detective in the Collegedale Police Department. After the detective and her wife were married in Maryland, the city manager denied the request for domestic partner benefits even after the insurance company had approved. The Commission took the matter up. Collegedale Mayor John Turner was the only vote against revising the policy.
Collegedale’s leadership on this issue has sparked conversations in other parts of Tennessee, too – the Chattanooga mayor and city council members have stated they would like to consider the addition to their city.
Collegedale reflects a movement that is happening at the local level across the country. Where states and the federal government have failed to act, municipalities have stepped up. More than170 cities and counties across the country have passed non-discrimination laws that protect their LGBT constituents. HRC’s Municipal Equality Index demonstrates the ways that many cities can – and do – serve the LGBT people who live and work in those cities.
Read the Municipal Equality Index report here, and click here to see the detailed scorecards for the 137 cities the MEI rated in 2012. The 2013 Municipal Equality Index is rating 291 cities and will be released this fall.