CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee — Voters in Chattanooga have rejected a proposal to allow health benefits for domestic partners of city employees.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/1kr13pY) reports the measure was rejected in Thursday's referendum election by 5,501 votes.
In November, Chattanooga became the third city in Tennessee to vote to expand benefits to same-sex couples, after Collegedale and Knoxville.
Opponents of the law organized a petition drive immediately after the vote and gathered enough signatures to force the City Council either to revisit its vote or allow the issue to go to referendum. The council chose the latter option.
Chattanooga Tea Party President Mark West said he hopes city officials will honor "the will of the people."
"What we want them to take away from this is that the people have spoken," he said.
Supporters of the measure said they were disappointed and thought the decision would have negative repercussions for the city, but that the effort did have some positive consequences.
"Our campaign for fairness and equality brought together churches, dozens of faith leaders, businesses from around this city and this state," said Spencer White, the YES Chattanooga campaign director.
City Councilman Chris Anderson, who introduced the ordinance, did not return calls seeking comment.
The issue has been hotly debated since Anderson first brought up the issue last year.
Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, http://www.timesfreepress.com