Chattanooga residents gather to oppose the new benefits and - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Chattanooga residents gather to oppose the new benefits and equality ordinance

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Some Hamilton County residents, unhappy the city council passed an ordinance to offer benefits to domestic partners of city employees, are working against the clock, trying to collect enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot.

They held a forum Thursday night to air their views and get the ball rolling. They tell Channel 3, it is a decision that should not be left to solely to the 9 members of the city council. "4,500 signatures," said Charles Wysong, "as hotly contested as this is, will not be an issue."

Thursday evening's meeting was held by Citizens for Government Accountability and Transparency to rally support for a referendum.   All council members and Mayor Andy Berke were invited. Councilmen Ken Smith and Larry Grohn attended.

"My stance has always been that this should be an issue that should be placed before the citizens for them to vote on," said District 4 Councilman Larry Grohn.

And, published reports indicate the group's attorney has told them 4,500 signatures would put the measure on the ballot.

The meeting was billed as a chance for citizens to pose questions and get answers from elected officials. Much like Tuesday, the arguments 'against' ranged from fiscal to constitutional. Councilman Grohn said, "It's an issue of, 'what is marriage and how do you define it?'"

And some in attendance feel that issue has been decided by the Council against the will of the people. "This effort by Councilman Anderson and the mayor to just push this thing through very quickly so there's no controversy about it, that is not going to happen," said Wysong. "This isn't Collegedale."

The group has been advised by their attorneys that if they can collect and submit 4,500 signatures, in two weeks, to the Election Commission, the domestic partner benefits issue will appear in a special election ballot.

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