Atlanta rallies help for Chattanooga gay measure

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LGBT activists in Atlanta are rallying to help support gay residents in Chattanooga, who are fighting to keep in place a domestic partner benefits law threatened by an upcoming public vote.

The City Council in the Tennessee town just a 90-minute drive north of Atlanta approved the measure in November, becoming the third city in the state granting benefits to the domestic partners of employees. It's been mired in controversy ever since, spawning two lawsuits, a recall effort aimed at a gay City Council member and now a public vote in August.

And that concerned Georgia Equality, which alerted its supporters on Wednesday and asked for help to swat down the ballot measure.

In 2013, Chattanooga passed a non-discrimination and domestic partnership ordinance for city employees and now they are fighting to keep it in place. Starting on July 18th, the people of Chattanooga will begin early voting, we have an exciting opportunity to change the course of history and win the first LGBTQ ballot measure in the southeast! This is more than just being good neighbors to our friends in TN, winning this campaign would impact the entire southeast region. With 6 short weeks until election day, we have a lot of work to do to ensure a victory.

YES Chattanooga is building a large base of grassroots local supporters but they need all the help they can get to get across the finish line. They need Georgian's help to win!

Conservative opponents gathered enough petition signatures to force the public vote. On Tuesday, the City Council voted to sue the Hamilton County Election Commission over the wording it approved for the ballot measure. The City Council wants to write the ballot language and keep opponents from authoring it.

City attorneys said Tuesday that wording approved last week by the Hamilton County Election Commission is too vague.

As approved, the question reads: “Shall the city of Chattanooga's 'domestic partnership' ordinance (Ordinance No. 12781) be adopted?”

Assistant City Attorney Phil Noblett told the council Tuesday that the question isn't properly explained and said the city charter allows his office to write the language.

It marks at least the second lawsuit over the domestic partner benefits measure. On Monday, Chattanooga police Lt. Corliss Cooper and her partner sued the election commission over the wording of the referendum. They claim that the commission is “allowing outside political forces” to influence the process.

The measure also fueled a recall petition aimed at Chris Anderson (photo), the city's first openly gay elected official and the City Councilmember who sponsored it. The three-month effort failed.

The domestic partner benefits ordinance was set to take effect on Tuesday but the conservative group hoping to overturn it halted implementation with its recall petition. Georgia Equality hopes to gather volunteers to help with get out the vote efforts.


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