As District 3 Counciman Ken Smith, left, listens, Kevin Starr speaks in favor of a proposed city nondiscrimination ordinance at the Chattanooga City Council's July 7 meeting.

Before a full room, and a row of people holding signs that said "protect our privacy" and "political correctness gone amuck," Chattanooga's nondiscrimination ordinance cleared its last hurdle and challenge Tuesday.

The ordinance, which aims to protect gay, lesbian and transgender city employees from being discriminated against or harassed based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, passed in a 5-2 vote.

But that was after Chattanooga City Councilmen Larry Grohn and Ken Smith attempted to have the final vote delayed a week.

Grohn and Smith said they received an analysis of the legislation from the University of Tennessee's Municipal Technical Advisory Service that said the ordinance might be difficult to enforce and too vague.

Smith said he supported having an anti-harassment ordinance, but he wanted to make sure the law was properly worded.

"This should not be about passing laws but passing good laws that are enforceable," Smith said.


Deputy City Attorney Phil Noblett said he hadn't seen an MTAS review, but he believed the ordinance was solid. Much of the language was pulled from a similar ordinance passed in Knoxville in 2012.

"That ordinance has not been held to be vague or improper in any way," Noblett said.

Council members Chris Anderson, Moses Freeman, Russell Gilbert, Jerry Mitchell and Carol Berz voted against delaying and for passing the ordinance.

Only Smith and Grohn voted against it.

Councilmen Chip Henderson and Yusuf Hakeem were not at the meeting.

The first reading of the ordinance was passed last week after two late amendments.

Two weeks ago, Anderson, who co-wrote the legislation with Freeman, agreed to remove the term "gender expression" citing concerns that the term was too broad. And last week, Henderson asked that protections for religious identity be included.

Those changes also pleased Grohn, who had previously opposed the ordinance, and it was passed unanimously.

According to the ordinance the rules go into effect in two weeks. All the city's personnel rules will be removed from the books and incorporated into a new employee handbook in the coming weeks.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at, @glbrogdoniv on Twitter or at 423-757-6481.