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Commissioner J.C. Fugate, who made the original motion, moved it be rescinded.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
- photo by John Wilson

Police Officer Testifies He Found Stabbing Victim Covered With Blood With Kids Sobbing Beside Her

McCayla Watt, 16, Taken Into Custody In Dorsey Street Carjacking

Market Street Bridge Closed At Rush Hour As Emergency Personnel Work To Get Climber Down


A city police officer testified on Wednesday that he found a stabbing victim covered with blood and her two children sobbing beside her. Officer Matthew Ballinger testified in the case in ... (click for more)

McCayla Watt, 16, who was wanted for a carjacking that resulted in serious bodily injury, has been taken into custody. She is being held at the Hamilton County Juvenile Detention Center. ... (click for more)

The Market Street Bridge was closed at rush hour on Wednesday as emergency personnel worked to get a climber down. The bridge closed around 4 p.m., sending a long line of traffic up the narrow ... (click for more)


Breaking News

Police Officer Testifies He Found Stabbing Victim Covered With Blood With Kids Sobbing Beside Her

A city police officer testified on Wednesday that he found a stabbing victim covered with blood and her two children sobbing beside her. Officer Matthew Ballinger testified in the case in which Zacarias "Carlos" Salas-Rufino is standing trial for second-degree murder in the courtroom of Judge Barry Steelman. He is charged in the Sept. 26, 2016, stabbing death of Yessica Ruiz. ... (click for more)

McCayla Watt, 16, Taken Into Custody In Dorsey Street Carjacking

McCayla Watt, 16, who was wanted for a carjacking that resulted in serious bodily injury, has been taken into custody. She is being held at the Hamilton County Juvenile Detention Center. Police said she is one of two juvenile suspects wanted in connection with a carjacking on Dorsey Street on April 23. Police said the victim tried to get his car back, the pair sped off ... (click for more)

Opinion

Aborting The Rescue Of Children's Education In Hamilton County

I was really captivated by this morning’s story in the Chattanoogan.com, “County School Officials Mobilized To Keep Hamilton County Out Of Lee Voucher Bill; Emails Give Details” I have read these emails and one that was not published from Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson to Elizabeth Millsaps and copied to Robert Gowan on April 15, 2019 about “Hamilton County numbers -ESAs”. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Too Good To Be True

I spend several hours every day practicing what I call “My Morning Reading.” I search for stories I think will be of interest to a what has become a large group of followers because I love to share stories on just about any subject and, if they are funny, have the ability to inspire, or pass along wisdom that’s all the better. Sometimes, however there is a price to pay. About 20 ... (click for more)

Sports

Piskos Gets Game-Winning Hit In Baylor Win Over GPS

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – There’s nothing quite like having senior leadership in critical situations with the game on the line in the state softball tournament. Such was the case for the Baylor Lady Red Raiders, who came from ahead to score the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning to nip GPS by a 4-3 final at McKnight Field No. Three Wednesday afternoon. ... (click for more)

Bradley Rallies Late Again To Edge Independence, 6-3, In State Baseball

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Bradley Central’s baseball team could be excused if they start using the motto of Larry The Cable Guy. At the TSSAA Class 3A state baseball tournament, the Bears “Git-R-Done.” On Tuesday, the Bears scored two runs in the sixth inning and beat Riverdale, 2-1, in the first state tournament appearance since 2007. Coach Travis Adams called on the same ... (click for more)