Mark West, president of the Chattanooga Tea Party, speaks to media in front of the CGAT (Citizens For Government Accountability And Transparency) campaign headquarters about their efforts to sway Hamilton County residents to vote against the "Domestic Partnership" ordinance in the August 8, 2014 election.Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
A group opposed to city benefits for domestic partners today launched a push to defeat the measure in a November voter referendum.
An array of speakers stood on the sidewalk at the offices of Citizens for Government Accountability and Transparency, a political action group whose petition drive in November gathered more than 7,700 signatures and got the issue on the ballot.
"Our campaign supports faith, fiscal responsibility and fairness," said Mark West, president of the Chattanooga Tea Party.
City Councilman Chris Anderson, who sponsored the ordinance that passed on an 5-3 vote, couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Faith was the predominant theme among the speakers, who included Patrick Hampton, youth pastor at Hawkinsville Baptist Church; Bishop Mark Sandilands of the Power of Touch Church and Rosalyn Hickman, of the Covenant Keepers marriage ministry. City Councilmen Larry Grohn and new council Chairman Chip Henderson were among the group of 25 or so at the news conference.
Hickman said the domestic partners benefit, which extends health coverage to people in same-sex marriages or to live-in heterosexual couples, is a "bad idea and a bad example to set before the city and young people."
Grohn condemned the City Council and mayor for reducing benefits to emergency resonders while extending them to unmarried partners of other city employees.
"I do not see how it's possible for leaders to pander to one special interest group while cutting benefits for others," he said.
West said the group's will use the tools of politics, such as signs, direct mail and phone banking, to persuade Chattanooga voters to overturn the domestic partners ordinance in the August election.
"It's a faith, fiscal and fairness issue," he said.
See Friday's Times Free Press for complete coverage.
Judy Walton has worked 25 years at the Chattanooga Times and the Times Free Press as an editor and reporter focusing on government coverage and investigations. At various times she has been an assistant metro editor, region reporter and editor, county government reporter, government-beat team leader, features editor and page designer. Originally from California, Walton was brought up in a military family and attended a dozen schools across the country. She earned a journalism degree ...