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Commissioner J.C. Fugate, who made the original motion, moved it be rescinded.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

Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report

Hamilton County Election Commission Encourages Early Voting

Tea Party Raises Questions About High Percentage Of Anonymous Vickers Gifts


Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: ANDERSON, GERARD HOMELESS CHATTANOOGA, 37402 Age at Arrest: 34 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga THEFT OF PROPERTY PUBLIC ... (click for more)

Early voting for the Tennessee State and Federal Primary and County General Election begins Friday and will continue daily, excluding Sundays, until Saturday, Aug. 1. Election Day is Thursday, ... (click for more)

The Chattanooga Tea Party is raising questions about County School Board District 1 candidate Stephen Vickers's campaign finance report. Officials said, "Recent analysis of Stephen Vickers’ ... (click for more)



Breaking News

Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report

Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: ANDERSON, GERARD HOMELESS CHATTANOOGA, 37402 Age at Arrest: 34 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga THEFT OF PROPERTY PUBLIC INTOXICATION POSSESSION OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE ---- ARMOUR, JOHNNY LEBRON 2707 N CHAMBERLAIN AVE CHATTANOOGA, 37406 Age at Arrest: 64 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga PUBLIC ... (click for more)

Hamilton County Election Commission Encourages Early Voting

Early voting for the Tennessee State and Federal Primary and County General Election begins Friday and will continue daily, excluding Sundays, until Saturday, Aug. 1. Election Day is Thursday, Aug. 6. “Our office has been working diligently to ensure a safe and secure election for voters,” said Kerry Steelman the Hamilton County administrator of Elections. “I encourage Hamilton ... (click for more)

Opinion

Warren Mackey: Why I Will Be Voting For County Commissioner Discretionary Spending - And Response

Because I am taking the lead on the County Commission in reinstating discretionary money, I take it that a Commissioner’s comments in the Chattanoogan.Com on July 13 where he asserts that giving discretionary money is a way of currying favor with voters in the next election was aimed at me. We haven’t had discretionary money for over five years now. In spite of not having the ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: No! To Selfishness

It was a ‘heavy lift’ some years ago when a “discretionary spending allowance” was lifted away from each of the nine Hamilton County commissioners. It was no more than a “vote for me” ruse in each district. One of the best examples of it is to walk into Orchard Knob Elementary and see this ornate stone bench at the entrance. The name of the commissioner who gave it to the school ... (click for more)

Sports

Limited Number Of Fans To Be Allowed In New Red Wolves CHI Memorial Stadium, Mask Optional

The Chattanooga Red Wolves are drawing ever-closer to the start of their season, and perhaps more importantly, the debut of the new CHI Memorial Stadium. CHI Memorial doctor Mark D. Anderson was at Tuesday’s practice, and said he believed having a reduced number of fans at the game should be safe. “I don’t know exactly what the plan is for fans, but a big thing is that being ... (click for more)

Covenant Names Jenny Rohn As Head Softball Coach

After a national search, Covenant College director of athletics Dr. Tim Sceggel announced Jenny Rohn as the next head softball coach at the institution. Rohn becomes the fifth head coach in program history. She comes to Covenant with a wealth of experience at the Division I level after spending the last three years as an assistant coach at Harvard. Rohn also made ... (click for more)