Petition approved that could place Chattanooga's domestic - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Petition approved that could place Chattanooga's domestic partnership benefits on ballot

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The Hamilton County Election Commission meets Wednesday. Photo by Dan Kennedy/WRCBtv.com The Hamilton County Election Commission meets Wednesday. Photo by Dan Kennedy/WRCBtv.com
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Opponents of the Chattanooga City Council's vote to extend benefits to domestic partners of city employees met Wednesday at the Hamilton County Election Commission have had their petition approved, which could place the question before the voters.

The group caused an interruption to the Hamilton County Election Commission meeting which was temporarily adjourned as officials worked to determine the next course of action. The group took a 30 minute recess to obtain city documents related to the ordinance.

READ MORE | Chattanooga votes to add benefits for Domestic Partners


Mark West, President of Citizens for Government Accountability and Transparency, spoke to the Commission on behalf of his petition. The Commission voted and approved the petition, meaning the group can start getting signatures.

Their hope is to place the question on a ballot to allow voters to express their preference on the issue.

"This ordinance is not reflective of the community. The community has been vocal against this ordinance," West said.

West is leading the charge against the city's 5-3 decision to give benefits to domestic partners on payroll.

 "This in essence was passed by one vote. So we contend, let's let the people decide on something with a lot of outcry," he said.

West said he was nervous the Election Commission wouldn't approve his petition Wednesday morning. One problem: he didn't send them a copy beforehand.

"It would've behooved you to send us this petition before right now. Because we need time to look over that," said Chairman Mike Walden.

For more than an hour, the group debated whether they'd allow West to start collecting signatures. But the petition eventually passed.

To get the question on the August ballot, the group must obtain the signatures of 4,500 registered voters within the next two weeks. There are 221,218 registered voters in Hamilton County.

The group's petition question reads as follows:

Shall the City of Chattanooga's "domestic partnership" ordinance (Ordinance No. 12781) be adopted?

For the Ordinance providing for the extension of benefits in domestic partnerships and adding sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to the city's nondiscrimination policy.

Against the Ordinance providing for the extension of benefits in domestic partnerships and adding sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to the city's nondiscrimination policy.

If the petition meets the deadline, the issue goes on the August ballot. 

West said he plans to go door-to-door and hit up a number of groups for signatures, including churches, civic groups and businesses.

Stay with Channel 3 as we update this story throughout the day.

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