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Commissioner J.C. Fugate, who made the original motion, moved it be rescinded.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

Renowned Chattanooga Musical Director Glenn Draper Dies

Online Petition Starts To Save Old Oak, Cherry Trees At Site Of Major St. Elmo Project


Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: AARON, TAMMY RENEE 2425 ASHMORE AVE APT 9 RED BANK, 37415 Age at Arrest: 49 years old Arresting Agency: Red Bank THEFT (UNDER 1000) ... (click for more)

Renowned Chattanooga musical director Glenn Draper has died at his residence at Alexian Village on Signal Mountain. Mr. Draper came to Chattanooga in 1968 and spent more than 30 years as director ... (click for more)

An online petition urges a developer to save some large old trees at the site of a major project planned in St. Elmo's business district. The petition asks that a "giant oak and row of cherry ... (click for more)


Breaking News

Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report

Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: AARON, TAMMY RENEE 2425 ASHMORE AVE APT 9 RED BANK, 37415 Age at Arrest: 49 years old Arresting Agency: Red Bank THEFT (UNDER 1000) THEFT (UNDER 1000) --- BARBEE, JOSHUA 250 FISHER LANE DECATUR, 37322 Age at Arrest: 32 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County POSSESSION OF DRUG PARAPHERNALIA SIMPLE POSSESSION ... (click for more)

Renowned Chattanooga Musical Director Glenn Draper Dies

Renowned Chattanooga musical director Glenn Draper has died at his residence at Alexian Village on Signal Mountain. Mr. Draper came to Chattanooga in 1968 and spent more than 30 years as director of Choral Activities and professor of Music at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and director of Music at First Presbyterian Church of Chattanooga. During his illustrious ... (click for more)

Opinion

Rhonda Thurman: More Money Won't Fix The Problems In The Hamilton County Schools - And Response

“For the Children”, “Invest in our future”, “Our children deserve a first class education”, “Our teachers make less than all the counties around us”, “It will only cost a latte a day or a night a week eating out”, these statements show up at HCDE school budget time as sure as, “Have a nice day” at the bank, “My pleasure” at Chick-fil-a and “Thank you for shopping at Walmart”. These ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: What The Indians Knew

‘Flea’ Chambliss, who was a hale-and-hearty friend for my entire life, died at the age of 81 last week and, when the funeral is held at Lookout Mountain’s Church of the Good Shepherd this coming Tuesday (3:30 p.m.), you can bet some glorious stories will be told. After all, ‘Flea’ was indeed a Chambliss – their family Bible proclaiming he was regally known as John Alexander Chambliss ... (click for more)

Sports

CFC Avenges Earlier Loss To Georgia Revolution With 2-1 Win On The Road

With the score between Chattanooga Football Club and the Georgia Revolution tied at one a piece, the saying “it’s sometimes better to be lucky than good” most certainly applied to Chattanooga’s second goal of the game as CFC avenged an earlier loss. It all started with a lackluster clearance by Georgia off of a Chattanooga throw in. The ball flew out to CFC’s sturdy defender ... (click for more)

Mangels Erases Richmond In Red Wolves' 1st Road Win, 2-0

With 83 minutes gone by and a 1-0 lead in his pocket, goalkeeper Andrew Mangels just needed to defend his net for a few more minutes. Those minutes were fraught with danger though, as the Richmond Kickers mounted attack after attack in a desperate effort to equalize the score. But the Red Wolves came out on top for their first road win. The latest onslaught came on a long pass ... (click for more)