City Council Declines To Repeal Domestic Partners Ordinance; Voters To Have Say In August; Petition Group Hits Decision

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The City Council has declined to repeal the Domestic Partners ordinance, setting up a vote on the issue in August.

City Attorney Wade Hinton on Tuesday night told council members that his office had reviewed the process in which there was a petition drive to overturn the ordinance. He said there were "no material deficiencies found."

He said the council had two choices - either repeal the ordinance or have the August vote.

Council Chairman Yusuf Hakeem asked if any council member wanted to make a motion. No one did.

Chairman Hakeem said the finance office would be dealing with costs of the election.

The council earlier voted 5-4 to allow city employees with same-sex partners or live-in boyfriends or girlfriends to extend the benefits to the partner.

Charlotte Mullis-Morgan of the election office said it was too early to say what the city's cost may be. She said that is the only item from the city on the ballot thus far.

Mark West, who led a petition drive that gained enough signatures in a two-week period to get it on the ballot, said, "In failing to do so, the city council missed an opportunity to acknowledge the voices of approximately 8,000 Chattanooga certified voters (nearly half of the total votes that were cast in the previous mayoral election) and reverse their support of this highly unpopular and controversial ordinance. 

"As a result of the council’s inaction though, Chattanooga voters will now have the opportunity to have the final say on whether the city of Chattanooga should extend healthcare benefits to the non-employee girlfriends and boyfriends of city employees.

"During the two-week period in which we interacted with over 11,000 citizens who signed our Petition, we heard and witnessed a consistent strong and impassioned opposition to the city council’s Domestic Partner ordinance.  Citizens were not only eager to sign the Petition, in many instances they sought us out to pen their names.  Nearly every signature reflected a strong disapproval of the ill-advised decision of five Chattanooga city council members.  As a result of the sentiments expressed to us, we anticipate that there will be a continued groundswell of voters who will be eager to reject the ordinance in August 2014.”

He said, "CGAT will continue to lead the effort to educate and inform voters of the impact the unfair and destructive ordinance would have on Chattanooga.  For more information citizens are encouraged to go to www.ItsYourVoteTN.com to receive ongoing updates about the effort to reject the Ordinance at the ballot box.  They may also contact CGAT at 423-499-1284." 

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