Domestic Partners Benefit Ordinance Loses

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Domestic Partners Benefits Ordinance lost in Thursday's election.

A group opposing it had gained enough names for a referendum.

The City Council had voted 5-4 to provide benefits to city employees with same-sex or live-in partners.

Mayor Andy Berke, who campaigned in favor of the ordinance, said, “I have no doubt Chattanoogans value fairness and equality, and I am proud of the volunteers who spent nights and weekends to ensure our employees are treated equally.

"The city of Chattanooga’s non-discrimination ordinance was repealed tonight, but I want every city employee to know one thing -- your work is valued and you are important to the future of our community.  Regardless of the results tonight, my Administration will continue to hire and promote the best people who provide excellent service to our constituents."

Human Rights Campaign’s Deputy Field Director Jeremy Pittman said, “Despite this hurtful and disappointing result tonight, we know that fair-minded Chattanoogans and people across Tennessee are ready to keep fighting until full equality reaches every corner of the state and every corner of this country. As LGBT equality moves forward across this country, this work isn’t over until every American can expect the same decent treatment under the law.”

YES Chattanooga campaign director Spencer White said,  “Our campaign for fairness and equality brought together churches, dozens of faith leaders, businesses from around this city and this state, hundreds of volunteers and thousands of fair-minded Chattanoogans willing to stand by their LGBT neighbors, family members, co-congregants and friends. That coalition isn’t going away, regardless of tonight’s outcome. Fairness will prevail, and this fight continues until the voice of every Tennessean can be heard.

“I want to thank all the volunteers and local leaders who helped fight to defend a fair and equitable Chattanooga, as well as statewide and national organizations like the Tennessee Equality Project, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Human Rights Campaign, who played a vital role in this effort.


”Over the course of the campaign, the YES Chattanooga effort reached out to over 50,000 voters and brought together nearly 500 active volunteers. Churches and faith leaders from a variety of denominations spoke out to defend the ordinance, as did many local businesses. And last Friday more than 500 fair-minded Chattanoogans rallied to defend the ordinance."


Officials of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund said they are "extremely disappointed with the outcome of a voter-approved ballot initiative in Chattanooga yesterday. The ballot measure called for the repeal a city ordinance that extended employment non-discrimination protections and domestic partner benefits to its city employees."

Rev. Darlene Nipper, deputy executive director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, said, “The passage of the Chattanooga ballot measure is extremely disappointing. Now the city’s hardworking LGBT employees and their families have been stripped of their basic rights. And, what happened in Chattanooga yesterday can happen in towns all across America. We need to be vigilant. We need to redouble our efforts. We need to continue sharing our personal stories of discrimination. And we need to be hopeful: while we may have lost this ballot measure, history is on our side and I am certain that in the not too distant future, the LGBT people of Chattanooga — and all LGBT people across the state of Tennessee — will have equality, freedom and justice.

“We thank the Yes Chattanooga campaign, Chattanooga Mayor Berke, Council member Chris Anderson, Civil Rights leader Moses Freeman, and the 500 tireless volunteers for partnering with us in the effort to protect the basic rights of the city’s LGBT employees. We look forward to our continued work to secure full equality for all.”

Against Ordinance 13,685

For Ordinance 8,184

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