Chattanooga City employee same-sex benefits petition crosses halfway point for signatures

Chattanooga City employee same-sex benefits petition crosses halfway point for signatures

November 28th, 2013 by Jeff LaFave in Local Regional News

Chattanooga City Hall

Photo by Jake Daniels/Times Free Press.

As the deadline to petition the Chattanooga City Council's domestic partner benefit ordinance inches closer, Mark West turned in enough signatures Wednesday afternoon to cross the halfway point.

West, president of Citizens for Government Accountability and Transparency, has been collecting signatures at the organization's headquarters at 5962 Brainerd Road and area churches for more than a week.

Wednesday's addition of 777 signatures brings the total of submissions to 2,411. At least 4,500 valid signatures need to be turned in to the Hamilton County Election Commission by Tuesday for the ordinance to appear as a public vote on August 2014 ballots.

However, West says 4,500 signatures will not be enough. He's aiming for 6,000, as Election Commission staff will have to verify that each signature is of a registered voter and city resident.

Any disqualified signatures are thrown out.

"We're not quite halfway to that point (of 6,000), but it's like a snowball effect," West said. "That snowball's going to gain a lot of momentum this weekend."

West was joined by pastor Patrick Hampton of Hawkinsville Baptist Church. Hampton estimates that 14 area pastors plan to participate by providing copies of the petition at Thanksgiving and Sunday services during the holiday weekend.

"It's something that's very neat to see in this community, to see all kinds of churches and denominations stepping forward," Hampton said.

Contact staff writer Jeff LaFave at jlafave@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.