Last edited: March 27, 2004

Second Thoughts in Monkey County, March 18, 2004

By Newscenter Staff

Nashville, Tennessee—Rhea County commissioners say they didn’t realize what they were voting for when they endorsed a proposal to make homosexuality illegal in the county made famous by the Scopes Monkey trial in 1925.

Earlier this week the county commission in a unanimous vote agreed to ask the state for the power to arrest gays for “crimes against nature”. (story)

But, after the story became front page headlines around the world some commissions want the issue reopened. They say they thought they were voting for the power to stop same-sex couples from marrying and nothing more.

Commissioner J.C. Fugate, who offered the motion, says there’s no need to reopen the debate. He says he’s clear on what he meant and what the other commissioners voted for. The motion directs County Attorney Gary Fritts to find the best way to enact a local law banning gays from living in Rhea County.

In introducing the motion Fugate said the issue of homosexuality is simple. He said he wants to keep homosexuals, “out of here.”

Nevertheless, a majority of commissioners have called a special meeting to discuss rescinding the motion.

The conservative county in the heart of the Bible Belt was the scene of the Scopes Monkey Trial. In 1925, high school teacher John T. Scopes was convicted of teaching evolution and fined $100. The conviction was later overturned.

The local school district still teaches creationism in its curriculum as an equal theory to evolution.

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