Chattanooga police officer sues election commission over domestic partnership referendum

Chattanooga police officer sues election commission over domestic partnership referendum

June 30th, 2014 by Todd South in Local - Breaking News

Lt. Corliss Cooper

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

A Chattanooga police lieutenant has filed a lawsuit against the Hamilton County Election Commission over its changing of wording on a referendum that asks voters if they will allow city employees with domestic partners to have the same benefits as married couples.

Lt. Corliss Cooper, a 27-year police department veteran, filed the suit along with her partner Robin Smith in Hamilton County Circuit Court today.

Her attorney, Stevie Phillips, alleges that the change from a 170-word summary to a 15-word summary in an "emergency meeting" held without public notification serves to not fully explain the law to voters.

"The voters of the City of Chattanooga need to understand what this Ordinance means when they vote on it. The Hamilton County Election Commission, a body that should be fair and neutral, is allowing outside political forces to influence their decision making," Phillips wrote in a press release.

The lawsuit seeks to stop the commission from using the ballot question "Shall the City of Chattanooga's domestic partnership ordinance (Ordinance 12781) be adopted?" until further summary information is included.