With much national fanfare, the council of the Chattanooga suburb of Collegedale recently voted to extend benefits to same-sex partners who were married in another state, even though Tennessee does not recognized their union.
But it came at a price for the family of the police officer at the center of the story: Her family was kicked out of their church of 60 years.
Leaders at Ridgedale Church of Christ met in private with Kat Cooper's mother, aunt and uncle on Sunday after the regular worship service. They were given an ultimatum: They could repent for their sins and ask forgiveness in front of the congregation. Or leave the church.
"My mother was up here and she sat beside me. That's it," said Kat Cooper. "Literally, they're exiling members for unconditionally loving their children — and even extended family members."
But the family's support of Kat Cooper was as good as an endorsement of homosexuality, said Ken Willis, minister at Ridgedale Church of Christ.
"The sin would be endorsing that lifestyle," Willis said. "The Bible speaks very plainly about that."
The Cooper family has been members at Ridgedale for more than 60 years. A picture of Cooper's grandfather hangs on the wall of the church — he was an elder.