Veteran City Police Officer And Partner File Suit Over Domestic Partner Ordinance

Monday, June 30, 2014

A lawsuit was filed Monday afternoon against the Hamilton County Election Commission on behalf of Lt. Corliss Cooper, a veteran officer of the Chattanooga Police Department with over 27 years of service and her partner Robin Smith.  

The complaint was filed by attorney Stevie Phillips of the firm of Davis & Hoss, who said the Hamilton County Election Commission "voted to change the language that will appear on the Aug. 7th ballot regarding the Non-Discrimination Ordinance approved by City Council last November."

Attorney Phillips said, "The Election Commission initially voted to accept language that was submitted by the city attorney. The original language, approved and published by the election commission, included a summary of the ordinance and a fiscal note certified by the chief financial officer.

"Subsequently, an outside group filed a complaint arguing that the language was too supportive of the Ordinance.  In response, the election commission held an emergency meeting without notifying the public and stripped the 170 word summary down to 15 words -- eliminating important information that would help voters understand the law."

The lawsuit asks the court to declare that the language chosen by the election commission is in violation of the Chattanooga City Charter and state law, to find that the Election Commission violated the Tennessee Open Meetings Act, and to enjoin the commission from printing or disseminating the ballots.  

Attorney Phillips stated, “The voters of the city of Chattanooga need to understand what this Ordinance means when they vote on it.  The Hamilton County Election Commission, a body that should be fair and neutral, is allowing outside political forces to influence their decision making.  The people who stand to lose are the voters of the city of Chattanooga.”     

Lt. Cooper said, “I put my life on the line every day for the citizens of Chattanooga.  This ordinance ensures that my family will receive the same protections and benefits as every other officer in the Department.”

Click here to read the complaint.


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