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Tennessee

Councilman challenges recall, says petitioners want to remove him because he’s gay

Monday, February 24, 2014

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — A Chattanooga city councilman has filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s recall statute after he says citizens petitioned to remove him from office because he is gay.

WRCB-TVChris Anderson

WRCB-TV
Chris Anderson

Councilman Chris Anderson says the state law allows discrimination because petitioners aren’t required to state a reason for recalling an official.

Residents petitioned to remove Anderson from office after he proposed allowing benefits for domestic partners of city employees.

Activist Charlie Wysong, who is helping with the recall efforts, told the Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/1cHOIrw) that the petition stems from the public’s dissatisfaction with Anderson’s performance in office.

“They’re saying they don’t want people to exercise their right for a recall,” he said, adding that he thinks voters should retain that right.

In his lawsuit, Anderson calls the statute unconstitutionally vague. He asks the court to block the recall petition and strike down the statute.

The first hearing in the lawsuit is set for March 10.

His attorney, Stuart James, said a judge would have to decide whether Tennessee voters have too much leeway to recall public officials.

“I don’t think it was intended to recall someone after nine months of office,” James said. “It undermines the electoral process.”

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When the recall petition was discussed by the Hamilton County Election Commission on Feb. 13, James argued that the petition didn’t give a reason for the recall.

“What if this petition was recalling Moses Freeman and said we’re recalling him because he’s black? Or what if it’s against Carol Berz? Would you recall Carol Berz because she’s a woman?” James asked the commission. “Would you approve this petition? I don’t think so.”

Several commissioners agreed that the language was vague, but said the petition conformed to state law.

“I’m hoping the Legislature will address this at some point,” said board member Jerry Summers.

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21 more reader comments:

  1. His attorney is right. What if they did try to recall someone because of their race or gender? They should have to give a reason and present evidence.

    Posted on Monday, February 24, 2014 at 10:08pm
  2. Race and gender are protected classes, sexual orientation is not.

    Replied on Monday, February 24, 2014 at 11:31pm
  3. True. Yet. But the point is that they don't have to state the reason, ANY reason, even if it does have to do with the person's race or gender. And that's not right.

    Replied on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 12:12am
  4. Kick some hinnie down there!! ;-)

    Posted on Monday, February 24, 2014 at 10:09pm
  5. I hate living in Tennessee so much.

    Posted on Monday, February 24, 2014 at 10:10pm
  6. Another BACKWARDS City and State…what a surprise NOT

    Posted on Monday, February 24, 2014 at 10:12pm
  7. A persons sexuality has nothing to do with their ability to do their job, prime example of why EDNA needs to be passed.

    Posted on Monday, February 24, 2014 at 10:12pm
  8. As a gay male I’m torn on this one. The constituents are going to vote based on their own opinions no matter how small minded they may be. If they really want to recall him and it was somehow blocked by a court (which I don’t foresee) than they most likely wouldn’t reelect him in the regular election.

    Posted on Monday, February 24, 2014 at 10:18pm
  9. Hmmm… The last I read, people in Tennessee are some of the least happy in the country. This would explain it!

    Posted on Monday, February 24, 2014 at 10:23pm
  10. hey people , take a look please! ever dollar counts! =]

    Posted on Monday, February 24, 2014 at 10:30pm
  11. that is strange because e I used to live in Chattanooga and that city is 100% bible believeing people and strict so no surprise to me.

    Posted on Monday, February 24, 2014 at 10:46pm
  12. I live in Chattanooga, and it breaks my heart that such an incredibly diverse city is being ran into the ground by bible-thumping small town politics. If they would get over following an ancient text maybe we could move forward.

    Posted on Monday, February 24, 2014 at 10:50pm
  13. GO and let’s defeat the recall.

    Posted on Monday, February 24, 2014 at 11:03pm
  14. He works for the people. If the people want to exercise their right to recall him then so be it.

    Posted on Monday, February 24, 2014 at 11:29pm
  15. If the people he works for want to keep him in office the recall attempt will fail. Was he openly gay when he ran? Did his ‘gayness’ suddenly become public? If the voters already knew he was gay when they elected him how can he now say that the only reason they want him out is because he is gay?

    Posted on Monday, February 24, 2014 at 11:38pm
  16. A cute guy like him shouldn’t treat like this

    Posted on Monday, February 24, 2014 at 11:41pm
  17. They found porn on his office computers that was paid for by the city.

    Posted on Monday, February 24, 2014 at 11:48pm
  18. That’s wrong

    Posted on Monday, February 24, 2014 at 11:49pm
  19. I think it ridiculous to be able to recall someone with no reason.. just another way to support hate and bigotry

    Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 12:20am
  20. They had a reason, dissatisfied with his work performance.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 12:47am
  21. is he single

    Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 12:59am