County that Wanted to Jail Gays Holds First Pride
365Gay.com, May 9, 2004
By 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Dayton, Tennessee—Less than two
months after Rhea county officials caused a national stir when they passed a
motion seeking state approval to arrest gays the county held is first Pride
More than 400 people gathered at Dayton’s City Point
Park for a picnic and speeches. Gays and lesbians were joined by straight
members of the county who opposed the county commission’s attempt at banning
gays from the county.
The crowd was smaller than anticipated. Organizers had
hoped several thousand people who show up. Still, for a first pride event,
they said they considered it a success.
More than 40 police officers including the local riot
squad were standing by in case of trouble after a group of conservative
Christians said they would demonstrate on the weekend. Friday, only a handful
of protestors picketed the event.
One, protestor, carrying a cross, refused to stay out of
the park and was led away by police. Officers said several others in the group
were also arrested.
In March the Rhea County Commission voted to seek the
approval of the Tennessee attorney general to arrest all gays in the community
on charges of crimes against nature.
Less than a week later, after the county got national
attention and drew criticism from across the country the commissioners
rescinded their vote.
It wasn’t the first time the rural county 30 miles
north of Chattanooga made national headlines. The Dayton courthouse was the
scene of the “Scopes Monkey Trial” in 1925 where high school teacher John
T. Scopes was convicted of teaching evolution and fined $100. The conviction
was later overturned. But, the story later became the award winning movie
“Inherit The Wind.”
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