Rhea County Commission Rescinds Gay Ban

Friday, March 19, 2004
Outside historic Rhea County Courthouse. Click to enlarge.
Outside historic Rhea County Courthouse. Click to enlarge.
- photo by John Wilson

The Rhea County Commission, meeting in a carnival atmosphere in the same courtroom where the Scopes Monkey Trial was held, took two minutes Thursday night rescinding a Tuesday vote seeking to ban gays from the county.

The commission earlier had voted 8-0, with one member absent, on the resolution asking that sodomy laws go back into effect. The vote was the same on rescinding it.

With an overflow crowd of vociferous supporters and foes of the homosexual lifestyle on hand, the commission filed in under police escort.

Commissioner J.C. Fugate, who made the original motion, moved it be rescinded. The vote was taken, and the commissioners quickly filed out - again under escort.

The resolution asked Rep. Jim Vincent to seek legislation to allow Rhea County to arrest gays for crimes against nature.

Commissioner Fugate earlier said he wanted to keep gays out of the county.

Demonstrators from both sides sparred heatedly inside and outside the historic courthouse.

The controversial vote had brought media attention from throughout the country.

June Griffin, a Christian activist, said the commissioners had bowed to "pressure from the liberal press."

She said, "We need to raise a better generation that won't chicken out." She said the majority of Rhea County residents supported the resolution.

Mrs. Griffin said she did not believe there are any gays living in Rhea County. She said, "Anyone I ever suspect, I go up and ask them directly." She said anyone she had asked had denied it.

But Daniel Shipley said he lives in Graysville near the Hamilton County line and is "gay and proud of it."

He walked up to June Griffin and said, "Honey, I'm gay and I want you to know I'm dressed as good as you."

Mr. Shipley said there are "a lot of gays in Rhea County."

One man at the brief meeting said the commission "kicked a hornet nest. They've made a laughingstock of Rhea County."

A man from Dunlap, who had a truck with anti-gay writing on it, was passing out tracts. The truck said, "Sodomites Don't Produce, They Recruit."

A number of young people demonstrated against the resolution.

One held a sign that said, "Judge not that ye be not judged."

Another said, "The Gluttonous Are Next" - an apparent reference to the portly Fugate.

Dunlap man preaching against homosexuality
Dunlap man preaching against homosexuality
- Photo2 by John Wilson

Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ABERNATHY, GAVIN TREMYNE  613 CLARK STREET ATHENS, 37303  Age at Arrest: 24 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County CONTEMPT OF COURT --- ATKINSON, JANISHA SHOLONTA  3210 BROAD STREET CHATTANOOGA, 37410  Age at Arrest: 26 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County THEFT OF ... (click for more)

Alexander Says Senate-Passed Bill Will Help Fight Zika, Keep Government, National Parks Open

Senator Lamar Alexander on Wednesday voted for legislation that will provide $1.1 billion to combat the spread of the Zika virus, keep government and national parks open and fund Pell grants for college students. The bill will keep the government open through  Dec. 9 . Senator Alexander said, “Senate Democrats deserve no praise today for finally relenting and allowing ... (click for more)

Jimmy Templeton Will Be Missed At The City Yards

If only we had known about the Chattanooga City Council's planned retirement send off for Jimmy Templeton of Public Works, the room would have been filled to overflowing with his friends and admirers - including me.   I have had the honor of knowing and working with Jimmy since the 1970's (and also knew his father "Big Jim").  Jimmy was a strong right hand for whoever ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Vin Scully’s Last Time

It is said that the opening paragraph of my favorite ode to baseball should be the centerpiece for the canon of sports literature. It was written by former commissioner Bart Giamatti in "The Green Fields of the Mind,” a most marvelous essay to the last day of the regular season in the major leagues. “It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Beats Red Bank On Senior Night

It was Senior Night at Signal Mountain on Wednesday as the Lady Eagles played their last regular-season volleyball match at home before they host next week’s District 7-AA tournament and all went pretty much as planned. It was a battle of regular-season district champions as the 6-AA queen Red Bank Lionettes provided the opposition for the 7-AA winning Lady Eagles. Signal ... (click for more)

No. 3 UTC Travels To ETSU Saturday

The third-ranked Chattanooga Mocs are back on the road this week, visiting ETSU for the first time in 13 years.  Game time is set for Noon (E.D.T.) on Saturday, Oct. 1, at Tipton Stadium at Science Hill High School in Johnson City, Tenn.   Chattanooga is off to a 4-0 start for the first time since 1979, but is 2-0 in SoCon action for the third year in a row.  ETSU ... (click for more)