Tennessee County That Wanted to Jail Gays Takes up New Anti-Gay Measure
June 14, 2004
By 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Dayton, Tennessee—A rural
Tennessee County that passed legislation calling for gays to be jailed and
then rescinded it following a national outcry is now looking at new anti-gay
Rhea County commissioners are now working on a resolution
that would declare their support for the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Tennessee has a so-called Defense of Marriage law that
has been on the books for several years, and this November voters will be
asked to enshrine that in the state constitution.
The authors of the Rhea County declaration of support,
Commissioners J-C Fugate and Dennis Tumlin, say there’s no time like the
present to show the county’s support for the measure.
Fugate was the author of the infamous bid to jail gays.
He says that it was never his intent to throw gays in jail, but that all he
wanted to do originally was support the state same-sex marriage ban.
He blames “miscommunication” for the wording of the
measure that passed unanimously in March and then was rescinded a week later.
Fugate and Tumlin are not taking any chances this time.
The new ordinance is in writing, a practice adopted only after the outcry that
followed the gay ban fiasco, and it will be put to a “workshop” so there
is no confusion.
“After the last incident, we don’t want to put
anything hastily on the agenda,” commissioner Dennis Tumlin said.
The resolution urges legislators to uphold Tennessee’s
definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman. It also
requests that current Tennessee law banning same-sex marriage be adopted as
amendments to the state and U.S. constitutions.
Following the March ban on gays in the county the
international media descended on the community, making it a laughing stock
across the country. The last time Rhea County had so much publicity was in
1925 for the famous Scopes Monkey Trial. High school teacher John T. Scopes
was convicted of teaching evolution and fined $100. The conviction was later
overturned and became a film, “Inherit The Wind”.
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