Commissioner against using taxpayer dollars that 'recognize same - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Commissioner against using taxpayer dollars that 'recognize same-sex couples'

The discussion started with a proposal to accept a $800,000 grant for the Department of Corrections and quickly escalated into a fight over same-sex partners. The discussion started with a proposal to accept a $800,000 grant for the Department of Corrections and quickly escalated into a fight over same-sex partners.

(WMC-TV) - What began as a routine vote in a Shelby County Commission committee meeting Wednesday ended in accusations a federal grant would use local taxpayer dollars to recognize same-sex unions.

The discussion started with a proposal to accept a $800,000 grant for the Department of Corrections and quickly escalated into a fight over same-sex partners.

"I'm not going to have anything to do with it," said Shelby County Commissioner Wyatt Bunker. "This program is deigned to provide services for people's partners. Not just their spouses, but their partners."

Bunker grilled the county corrections administrator with a very direct question.

"Will these benefits extend to same sex couples? And they couldn't answer the question," said Bunker

Commissioner Henri Brooks felt his questions came out of left field.

"I just don't see anything here on the subject matter or anything in the agenda relating to homosexuals. I'm trying to figure out, do I have the right agenda?" said Brooks.

The grant offers parenting assistance to imprisoned parents. Closer inspection of the wording in the grant describes the parents as "relationship partners" and "partners or spouses."

Bunker, a self-described social and fiscal conservative, says he is against using taxpayer dollars that recognize same-sex couples.

"I think civic organizations and churches are better designed to deliver those type services," said Bunker.

The committee approved the item, but the item has yet to go before the full commission.

Copyright 2013 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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