Wednesday The Chattanooga City Council will present the Hamilton County Election Commission with a lawsuit. It all has to do with the wording of a controversial voter initiative that's on the August ballot.
The whole fight is over the domestic partnership ordinance.Last year the Chattanooga City Council voted to allow the partners of city employees in domestic partnerships to get equal benefits. City voters will decide on whether that plan should go ahead on August 7th. But an issue with this lawsuit is exactly what that ballot measure should say. CLICK HERE to read the entire lawsuit.
In one respect it boils down to word count. The Chattanooga City Attorneys' submission is 300 words. Friday, that went down to 15. This after the Hamilton County Election Commission revised the wording on behalf of an outside group.
"It does appear that they've been influenced by outside forces. People with their own personal and political agendas," said Attorney Stevie Phillips.
Phillips represents Lieutenant Corliss Cooper, a 27 year veteran of the Chattanooga Police Department. She and her partner filed a lawsuit against the Hamilton County Election Commission claiming the revised ordinance doesn't fully explain the law.
"I don't think our voters will be able to cast an intelligent ballot based on it's language," said Phillips.
On the other side, Mark West with the Citizens for Government Accountability & Transparency says it's fine the way it is.
"Our language is very clear, very concise, very easy to understand and it simply said are you for it or against it," said West.
But how do the voters feel?
"I mean if they don't give the details then it leaves a lot more room for people to make it into something that it's not," said Stephanie Patterson.
But that's not the only issue at hand. Phillips says the meeting to change the wording was done behind closed doors.
"The lawsuit specifically alleges a violation of the open meetings act. It also asserts that the language currently on the ballot is in violation of our city charter," said Phillips.
Word quickly spread to Chattanooga City Council. At Tuesday night's meeting with an eight to one vote, the city voted to let the judge decide.
"The judge will determine who is responsible for providing the summary and as such, should determine which one is used on the ballot," said Chattanooga City Councilman Ken Smith.
NewsChannel9 tried reaching out to the Hamilton County Election Commission Attorney for their side, but we were told no comment.
Again, to read the fully copy of the lawsuit, CLICK HERE.By Alyssa Spirato