ON THE BALLOT
Below is the ballot question concerning Chattanooga's same-sex employee benefit policy.
"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.
After some confusion and an emergency meeting, a ballot question asking voters to support or reject same-sex benefits for Chattanooga employees will appear in its original form on the Aug. 7 ballot.
The Hamilton County Election Commission voted Friday to approve the language of the ballot question seeking to recall the city ordinance, which the city passed in November. The measure was meant to go into effect July 1, but it was halted when the Citizens for Government Accountability and Transparency, a local conservative political group connected to the Chattanooga Tea Party, filed the petition to recall it.
In an emergency meeting Friday, the election commission discussed the language as it was presented on the original petition, after the commission asked Assistant City Attorney Phil Noblett to submit alternate language.
In most cases, the city attorney writes a summary for ballot questions that deal with city issues. But this case is a bit sticky.
Election Administrator Kerry Steelman said the same-sex benefit recall is the first voter-driven referendum the county has ever dealt with.
According to state law, the petitioners in a recall get to decide on the language.
But -- to add to the confusion -- Hamilton County Attorney Rheubin Taylor said if the petition had more than 300 words, the city attorney would have be allowed to write a summary for the ballot. Taylor advises the election commission on legal issues.
The election commission will post the ordinance passed by the City Council and the ballot on its website.
Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6481.