With a 5-to-3 vote Tuesday night, Chattanooga city council approved an ordinance on second reading that officially makes the city the third in Tennessee to extend city employee benefits to unmarried domestic partners, either gay or straight. The ordinance also updates Chattanooga’s discrimination clause to prohibit the city from firing workers based on sexual orientation or gender identity and protects them from workplace harassment.
After months of fiery public debate, the council approved the first reading of the ordinance last week by a single vote.
The Chattanooga suburb of Collegedale was the first city in Tennessee to offer benefits to same-sex and unmarried partners in August. Knoxville followed suit in October. Also in October, the Nashville Metro Council requested a study group to look into the option.