Last edited: May 08, 2004

Many Rhea County Residents Unhappy with Protests

News 2/WKRN-TV, May 7, 2004
441 Murfreesboro Road
Nashville, TN 37210
Tel.: 615.259.2200

By Luke Duecy

Thousands of gay-rights activists are descending on Rhea County to protest a recent commission vote to ban homosexuals. But on Friday, anti-gay activists beat them to the punch.

They traveled from as far away as Washington, D.C., armed with signs and chants supporting an ordinance that was passed then rescinded last month by Rhea County’s commission to make homosexuality a crime against nature. But as residents watched these outsiders rally, they said that they’re trying to put the whole controversy behind them.

Dayton church pastor Kenneth LaDuke said, “We’re going to simply endure it here. The town is not involved this whole controversy.”

LaDuke told News 2 that his parishoners and many other Rhea County residents don’t support the idea of banning homosexuality. He also says they’re embarrassed their county is now the target of protests.

“People from out of town who are extremists on either side have seen this as an opportunity to champion their causes,” he said.

Out of the dozens who attended Friday’s anti-gay rally, only five were actual Rhea County residents. Other residents tell us they’re also not looking forward to some 5,000 gay-rights activists expected to arrive here Saturday from outside the county.

Rhea County resident Joe Cox said, “It ain’t right. They ought to keep it where they’re at and keep us alone.”

Anti-gay protestors have scheduled a rally in Dayton Saturday afternoon. The Rhea County Sheriff’s Department says they’re preparing for thousands of people to attend.

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