At BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, our culture revolves around a simple belief - that
everyone is valued. Every voice is important, respected, trusted, communicated with and made to
feel a part of the team.
Our mission of peace of mind through better health is for all Tennesseans - from our employees,
business partners and members to our neighbors throughout Chattanooga and across the state.
BlueCross is one of the largest employers in the Chattanooga area, with approximately 4,800 team
members who work on our Cameron Hill campus or telecommute. In my role as Vice President of
Diversity and Inclusion, I often say, "You're either going to be intentionally inclusive or unintentionally
Inclusion is part of who we are, and we consider not only race, nationality and gender, but also
other facets of each person's identity and story. We actively recruit veterans and people who
self-identify as disabled or differently abled. We have a program specifically designed to help people
on the autism spectrum integrate into our workforce. And we offer LGBTQ benefits, host LGBTQ
awareness sessions and work with universities to encourage their LGBTQ students to attend
Therefore, we want to express our support for all members of our community to be valued,
respected and treated equally.
Mayor Berke and City Council:
I’m writing today not only as a candidate for office, but also as a concerned citizen. I
wholeheartedly support the Call for Equality Ordinance that the Chattanooga Queer Community Forum has
It’s vital that our community is an inclusive and welcoming place for people of all walks of life.
When our LBGTQ+ neighbors can live and work with the confidence that they enjoy basic legal
protections from discrimination, harassment, and exclusion, it will make Chattanooga a better
place for all of us.
At the moment there is no better opportunity to set the tone for such inclusion than for Hamilton
County’s biggest city - Chattanooga - to take a bold step in affirming legal protection for its
LGBTQ+ citizens. Should I be elected as Hamilton County’s next mayor, I will ask the County
Commission to pass a companion ordinance so that these protections are ubiquitous throughout
I urge Mayor Berke and the City Council to unanimously pass the Call for Equality Ordinance. Not
only will this measure provide important legal support our local LGBTQ+ community, but it will
also signal to the entire country about the kind of welcoming, inclusive community that
Chattanooga and Hamilton County are.
Candidate for Hamilton County Mayor
We at Unum play a critical role in helping to protect the financial futures of individuals and their families. Our business is, essentially, a promise to be there for people during some of the most difficult times of their lives, and our commitment gives millions of people the peace of mind that comes with protecting themselves and their loved ones.
Living up to that commitment means delivering on the promises we make to all of our stakeholders - including the communities in which we live and work - that we'll operate consistently, fairly, and professionally in everything we do. For nearly 170 years, we've worked hard to build a company that can be trusted to do the right thing.
Among the promises we make is one that prohibits discrimination in the workplace, including on the basis of race, age, color, national origin, ancestry, mental or physical ability, religion or belief, gender, gender identity or expression, marital status, veteran or military status, sexual orientation, labor or trade union membership, or any other characteristics protected by law.
We also make all reasonable accommodations to meet our obligations under laws protecting the rights of the disabled.
By the same token, as one of the largest employers in the city of Chattanooga, we believe that Chattanoogans deserve the right to be treated equally in employment, healthcare, housing, public accommodations, and services.
We are proud to call Chattanooga home and believe the city can continue to be among the best places in the country to live and work - for all of us.
Hello City Council Members,
As a local business owner, a life-long Chattanoogan, and a concerned citizen, I’d like to
wholeheartedly express my company’s support of the Call for Equity Ordinance, issued
recently by the Chattanooga Queer Community Forum.
As we have learned from Mayor Berke’s fine leadership, we are a stronger community
when everyone has a seat at the table. I remember how impressed I was at Mayor
Berke’s response to the tragic 2015 shooting at the US Navy Reserve as he
immediately ensured the Muslim members of our community felt safe and protected
from any undue retaliation. The best moments in our city’s history has been when we
protected the most vulnerable of our citizens from any form of discrimination or abuse.
I have no doubt that our city and your ordinances will be at the forefront of ensuring
equal rights and treatment of the LGBTQ members of our community. As a mental
health therapist, I can tell you that homosexuality is not a new trend sweeping our
nation – rather, people of all sexual orientations have long been a part of our
community, nation and world - and it’s time that we make room for them. LGBTQ
people deserve more than tolerance, they deserve to be celebrated, accepted and
protected at the same level of any other community member.
LGBTQ individuals are almost three times more likely than others to experience a
mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety disorder. The fear of coming
out and being discriminated against can lead to depression, post-traumatic stress
disorder, suicidal thoughts and substance abuse. Let’s do all we can to lessen this
statistic and make our city a welcoming place for all.
Dear City Council Members,
I wanted to write to fully express my support as a local business owner for the Call for Equity
When we chose to relocate our business to Chattanooga two years ago, one of the big factors
was how much it felt like Chattanooga was a city on the rise. Chattanooga is a forward thinking
city that has used cutting edge thinking to advance and grow a great deal in a short period of
time. The city has done so much to make itself an attractive place to live and work, including
development of the waterfront area, installation of the best internet in the country, and the
creation of a community based on innovation; all of this definitely played a factor in our decision
to move our business here.
I feel strongly that passing the Call For Equity ordinance would be a significant continuation of
the policies that have led to Chattanooga being a city on the rise. I know that creating an
environment where all citizens are treated equally will ensure top talent is excited to come to
Chattanooga. Passage of the ordinance would show leadership and a forward thinking mindset
from the city government, and would show businesses that Chattanooga will continue to be
leaders and innovators on all civic-oriented fronts. I believe that not only is the Call for Equity
Ordinance the right thing to do, but it also would continue to make Chattanooga a place for
businesses to start, relocate to, and grow.
I hope you will vote to pass the Call for Equity Ordinance; I believe it reflects a respect for the
diversity of Chattanooga, as well as making Chattanooga a great place to do business.
Dear Chattanooga City Council,
ChattaVegan is a local nonprofit that strives to create a healthier, more environmentally conscious, and kinder Chattanooga. We support for the Call for Equity Ordinance put forth by the Chattanooga Queer Community Forum. We both affirm and ally with the LGBTQ community and believe that one’s sexual and gender orientation should have no bearing when it comes to considerations of equality in all aspects of life.
While Chattanooga’s residents represent a wide range of political and religious views, it is apparent that our city is a harbor of inclusion and progress that sets us apart and promotes growth. The Call for Equality Ordinance aligns with the ethos and trajectory already set forth by Chattanooga's city and residents.
Chattanooga is bursting with talent, and the path forward is to celebrate such talent without discrimination. We view the allowance and lack of accountability regarding discriminatory practices as fundamentally incompatible with the vision of Chattanooga’s future.
A better Chattanooga engages in practices that promote conscientiousness and kindness. ChattaVegan does not see those principles as separate from the inclusion of our queer community. Inclusion is intrinsic in our values and a truth we consider self-evident in any persons pursuit of justice and equality in today’s America. We ask that you consider our voice–among so many others–to support for the Call for Equity Ordinance put forth by the Chattanooga Queer Community Forum.