In College Town Where Students Observe the Sabbath, Same-Sex Partners of Government Employees Will Receive Benefits

Collegedale, Tennessee was founded as the home for Southern Adventist University and has a huge Seventh-day Adventist population.

The school is so religious, in fact, that it actually observes the Sabbath (as Adventists do). This is from the student handbook (PDF):

That’s why it’s a bit surprising (and amazing) that Collegedale just became the first city in Tennessee to extend benefits to same-sex partners of its government employees:

“It looks like we are condoning same-sex marriage,” said resident Dolly Fillman. “I know they said that wasn’t what they were doing, but it looks like it to me.”

For Collegedale Detective Kat Cooper, the new policy means relief. Her wife can finally have insurance coverage.

“It is such a huge weight off our shoulders,” she said. “We don’t have to constantly worry about health expenses or sudden emergencies. It’s hard to explain how much this means to us.”

Four on the five-member commission voted to accept the new policy. Before he cast his supporting vote, Commissioner Larry Hanson said, “You don’t know how lucky we are to get to vote on this.”

Some of the Christians who attended the city commissioners’ meeting spoke in favor of the policy, saying that it’s “just plain fairness.”

How great is that? A town overrun by religion somehow found the good sense to do the right thing.

(Thanks to Alex for the link! Alex added: “They not only saw the light they saw the rainbow.”)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • EvolutionKills

    Good to see, but it’s a shame that this seems to be the exception rather than the rule.

  • Mario Strada

    I know what they are going to do on the Sabbath.

  • iamgog

    I approve of the administrators of the city of Collegedale, TN for having a sense of inclusiveness and fairness. Great jorb.

  • KevinKat

    I know few college students do it, but… isn’t it against the idea of an educational facility to prohibit studying over the weekend?

  • Ashton

    I grew up in an Adventist family and went to an Adventist university and all I have to say is ugh. On the plus side, they are generally against injecting religion into government because they fear that government will one day be used to persecute them. I therefore have said that unless someone can give a reason other than religion to be against gay marriage being legal, then they should be in favor of its legality. Otherwise they are promoting theocracy. I have seen a couple of Adventists walk away with thoughtful looks on their faces after I say this. I don’t know if I’ve changed any minds or not.

  • Richard Wade

    Thank you for trying, and using that positive approach.

  • Suzie

    And how nice to read some good news about Tennessee on this page!

  • the moother

    Thumbs up to cool people then…

  • Freak

    I remember reading (in AU, I think) about a dispute; two separate religious groups were trying to get a contract to run a hospital; AU favored the 7DAs because they offered full reproductive care.

  • Maggie Winnike

    Yeah, from what I’d read about Adventists, for the most part they’re pretty in favor of separating church and state. At least they realize that having religion in government will hurt religious people as well.

  • newavocation

    Yes but it’s a start and I understand the commissioners received good and positive support so maybe it can be a good example to be followed.

  • # zbowman

    The display pic just *made* that comment.

  • Ashton

    That’s true. Adventists have no opposition to birth control. Their hospitals will perform abortions in cases of threat to mother’s life and severe fetal abnormality. I don’t think that there would be any reason for a woman to be afraid that her life will be disregarded in favor of her fetus (or anything else). While the church does not have a position on legality of abortions, I have found most of the members to be in favor of it being illegal with some exceptions.

    I think I remember hearing about that case and it made a whole lot of sense to me to favor an Adventist hospital over a Catholic one.

  • Robster

    We had a bunch of seven day adventurers knock on the front door a while back. They seemed quite open to a discussion on how absurd the baby jesus/holy spook/universe in a week nonsense is, unlike all the other wandering godbots.

  • Amanda McCoy

    I went to the elementary school in Collegedale for two years – this is nice to see. And Ashton is correct – 7th Day Adventists are very adamant about the separation of church and state so this ruling makes sense.
    Adventists, overall, tend to be a pretty tolerant and open-minded bunch, in my experience. I never had any problems with the churches or schools I attended as a child, even though I don’t believe in god anymore. Their key ideas were of love and that’s never a bad thing. :-)