Local Reaction Mixed on Gay Sex Ruling
News Sentinel, June 27, 2003
By Lola Alapo, firstname.lastname@example.org
Knoxville area activists and religious leaders Thursday
expressed opposite reactions to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling striking
down a ban on gay sex in Texas.
“I think it’s a great landmark civil rights decision
because it goes straight to the heart of the Bill of Rights and privacy,”
said Suzanne Pharr, executive director of the Highlander Research and
Education Center, an organization in New Market that addresses social,
environmental and economic issues facing the people of the South and
Pharr said she hoped the decision would enable those in
the lesbian and gay communities to feel freer to express themselves and have
“a greater sense of their humanity.”
The Rev. Bob Galloway, pastor of Metropolitan Community
Church in West Knoxville, said the ruling came at an opportune moment. The
church offers a special outreach to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender
“It’s about time, since Tennessee’s already done
it,” Galloway said. “It’ll probably affect the 13 other states” with
sodomy laws, he said.
Galloway said a member of his congregation was
instrumental in removing the state’s sodomy law. The Tennessee law was
struck down in 1996.
Opponents, however, said the Supreme Court’s decision
shows the decline in the moral order of society.
“It’s just as immoral today as it was before (the
Supreme Court) ruled on it,” said Xavier Mankel, vicar general of the
Diocese of Knoxville and pastor of Holy Ghost Catholic Church.
Mankel said the ruling was a sign of the lessening of
“It’s a breakdown of family,” Mankel said.
“That’s what is so devastating about it.”
The Rev. Bob Bevington, senior pastor of the Knoxville
Baptist Tabernacle on Magnolia Avenue, an independent Baptist church, said the
court’s ruling is anti-biblical and an attack on the Christian faith.
“The Bible teaches that sodomy is unnatural,” he
“Our forefathers gave us Christian ethics but we’ve
just moved farther and farther away from that,” he said. “We’ve come a
long way but we haven’t gone the right way.”
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