Marietta committee quietly OKs same-sex benefits for city workers
by Hilary Butschek
August 28, 2014 04:00 AM | 4351 views | 8 8 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin
Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin
MARIETTA — The Personnel and Insurance Committee voted 3-0 yesterday to approve a change in the city’s retirement benefits that would allow married same-sex couples who work for the city to receive retirement benefits.

Now, the change must be approved by the council as a whole at its Sept. 10 meeting.

The change stems from an Internal Revenue Service mandate that resulted from the Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor, which overturned the part of the Defense of Marriage Act stating marriage is between a man and a woman. The mandate requires all retirement plans to recognize same-sex couples if they were married in a state that has legalized gay marriage.

The change in the retirement plan passed quickly and without comment from any members of the council. After the meeting, Mayor Steve Tumlin wouldn’t talk about the issue of same-sex marriage

because he said it was unrelated to the amendment.

“I have no opinion,” Tumlin said. “That amendment had only one thing to do — the legality of whether somebody was going to be subject (to retirement benefits).”

Many City Council members said they didn’t agree with same-sex marriage but knew they had to follow the law.

Councilman Johnny Walker said he didn’t think it was an overreach of the federal government to mandate cities to incorporate benefits for same-sex couples into their retirement plans.

“(The federal government) is not trying to force it,” Walker said. “I’m happy to abide by the law.”

Councilman Grif Chalfant said he thinks activists are putting pressure on the federal government.

“I think the gay rights organizations are pushing it through the federal government,” Chalfant said. “I think they’ve just put that into all the federal programs.”

Chalfant said the city won’t look to further incorporate equal benefits for same-sex and heterosexual couples in the near future.

“It’s mandated by the state not to talk about it before the state does,” Chalfant said.

If the city does not comply with the mandate from the IRS, it will be in violation of federal law, said Amy Henderson, spokeswoman for the Georgia Municipal Association.

Henderson said the city of Marietta is the last city in Cobb County to make the revision to its code to be in compliance, which requires a change to definition of the word spouse.

Henderson said the mandate implies if a woman working at City Hall is setting aside money in a retirement fund but suddenly dies, she can leave the money in the fund to her female partner if the two were legally married in a state allowing same-sex marriage.

The GMA handles the retirement payout plans for 282 of the 521 cities in Georgia that are members of the organization, said Henderson. The GMA handles the retirement plans of the five other cities in Cobb, Henderson said.

The GMA changed its retirement policy in September 2013 to include a second definition of the word spouse that includes those legally married to a partner of the same sex, but only in cases where federal taxes are involved.

Because the other five cities in Cobb rely on the GMA to handle their retirement plans, those cities are already in compliance with the mandate.

Cobb County will take up changing its code in reaction to the mandate at its Sept. 23 meeting, said AikWah Leow, spokeswoman for the county.

Shannon Barrett, the city’s acting human resources director, said the change to the policy will not affect the way the city gives out its retirement benefits, just who the money goes to in certain cases.

“This is just to be in compliance with the IRS,” Barrett said.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Rhett Writer
August 28, 2014
If you dislike the south as much as this bit of childish rant would indicate, why don't you move up north? I am sure they need your blind, egotistical, self-serving psyche' to go with all the other blind, egotistical psyche's they have to deal with. there.

Sorry, Kevin, I might have known it was you. You don't want anything to change, otherwise you wouldnt have anything about which to do your asinine rants.
Seven Times
August 28, 2014
The decay of American society continues, facilitated by spineless morally bankrupt leaders who lack the moral courage to stand up for what is right. Our country continues to rot from the inside out, as political correctness marches on in what is now a godless socialist America.
Backward South, Burn
August 28, 2014

Just look at Marietta's typical, self-serving, weasel politicians, none of whom has the intellect and upstanding character to speak out forcefully against blatant discrimination, remaining sycophants to the idiots among the electorate.

From the Civil War to KKK hangings to the Feds having to send in troops, the South continues to embrace its historical, hysterical stupidity, in a delusion that the "States' rights" retardation of religious whack jobs will endure.

Watch the South cower again, as the Feds have to drag it, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century.

Sherman did not burn to the ground enough of a radius of Atlanta, and the North's mistake was to let it rebuild without imposing and maintaining the progressive aspects of Northern law and sensibilities. The South is still the undereducated brat that the rest of the country has had to tolerate.

I shall enjoy watching the South get smacked in the mouth once again.

August 28, 2014
I75 goes north...get on it and leave us alone!
Voice of Reason
August 28, 2014
When you don't stand for something, you are bound to stand for anything. Lets play it safe and "not have an opinion" or be happy to "abide by the law" even though morally it might bankrupt us. Sad times in the world today when you politically play the game of "go along to get along." Never thought I would ever see a liberal Cobb/Marietta government. The last conservative bastion in Cobb has fallen. Maybe because I am heterosexual that I should force my agenda on government to lower my taxes or raise my retirement. What you do in your bedroom is your business...what you manipulate the government to force me to do is my business. Everyone of you should be ashamed of yourself. Extremely poor example of leadership. We are officially morally bankrupt.
ann ryan
August 28, 2014
Wait a minute -- don't you want some control (even after you die) over your hard earned money? This is about retirement funds. I certainly want the ability to name beneficiaries to my retirement accounts!
Your Forced Agenda
August 28, 2014
Indeed, you have "force[d] [your] agenda on government," by sustaining (and likely receiving money from) laws that give ONLY married heterosexuals income-tax breaks and other freebies.

Here's an overview of well over a thousand Federal benefits for married heterosexuals you must have forgotten about:

Such convenient amnesia usually emanates from a South-residing hypocrite who rabidly denounces entitlements and subsidies, but then never refuses -- indeed, DEMANDS -- his Social Security check, Medicare benefits, and IRS-joint-filed-return discounts.

In Response To YFA
August 29, 2014
On the contrary...I don't want the government picking winners and losers. I just as well tell the government to stay out of our lives all together. Social Security, Medicare benefits and IRS related exemptions, which are not freebies, by the way, are forced taxes. I didn't create this, but would sure love to change it. This was set up because the government believes you and I can't take care of ourselves through our own choices of what we do with our hard earned money. It is about government control. I say scrap it all. And just for kicks and giggles, I am from the North. Using sexuality to demand rights from the government is not the same as demanding fiscal conservatism and accountability, but I guess all liberals are only good at name calling when the argument doesn't fit the logic.
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