Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Family Action wants it all, but can't follow the money

There is so much whining from Family Action that they can't dictate Puritan values in every corner of the state that it's hard to know where to begin.  They could untangle all their confusion if they just learned to follow the money.

Vanderbilt:  The latest episode in their melodrama comes in reaction to a clarification in Vanderbilt University's non-discrimination policy.  Family Action is livid that the university is actually taking steps to apply the policy consistently to all officially recognized and funded student groups including religious organizations, most of which are already in compliance. Plus, the university is generously working with the rest in the mean time.

What's the problem?  Family Action seems to think that TEP is being contradictory because we support the Vanderbilt policy on the one hand while saying that we don't wish to interfere with anyone's religion on the other in reference to case of Memphis' Bellevue Baptist Church  abusing its tax-exempt status by engaging in candidate endorsements.

Are you confused?  We suspect that's the idea.

That little word "money" can make sense of everything.  Let's follow the money.

Vanderbilt funds and recognizes student organizations.  If you want to get the funds and use space at Vanderbilt, you have to follow the rules.  Is it really so crazy to say that you can't discriminate against other members of the university community, members who pay tuition and the activity fee?  If you don't like the rules, you can exist unofficially and discriminate to your heart's content.

Bellevue Baptist:   Would you believe that money takes care of the Bellevue Baptist question, too?  Bellevue Baptist has tax exempt status as a Church.  That means contributions to it are tax deductible and that for the most part the Church avoids paying many if not all taxes.  The string that comes with that status, a status they indicate they want, is that they can't meddle in elections.  If they want to give up their tax exempt status, they can say whatever they want about candidates.  They could even register as a political action committee and contribute to them if they wanted to.  They're free to choose, but they can't have both. 

Other amazing difficulties solved:  And would you believe that Family Action could unravel other puzzles just by following the money?  Their recent complaints about Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee and Nashville's Contract Accountability Non-Discrimination Ordinance could all disappear if they'd just realize that people and organizations have choices about how they use their money.  Blue Cross Blue Shield is free to determine if it wants to give some of its contracting business to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender owned companies.  And before Family Action came along, cities and counties in Tennessee were free to determine their own contracting policies reflective of the will of local taxpayers.  You'd think all this freedom would be right up their ally.

So not only can Family Action not follow the money, they can't bear private companies and organizations and local governments setting policies that reflect their own values about what to do with their own funds.

Is the thread of conspiracy, er, um, consistency clear now?

-Chris Sanders

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