Friday, March 19, 2004
News Flash: Rhea Co., Tennessee Reverses Gay Ban 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
This just in from The Advocate:
The [Rhea County, Tenn.] board voted 8-0 on Thursday to rescind its Tuesday action. The commissioners declined to comment as deputies escorted them to and from the meeting, where they overturned the earlier vote and quickly adjourned. Fritts said he advised the commissioners that they could not bar gays and lesbians from Rhea County or make them subject to criminal charges. The U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down laws regarding same-sex sodomy as a violation of adults' constitutional right to privacy.

Commissioner J.C. Fugate, whose initiated the Tuesday motion, also made the motion to rescind it Thursday. In a discussion about gays and same-sex marriage at the earlier meeting, Fugate had asked the county attorney to find a way to "keep them out of here." Twelve-year-old Caitlin Kinney, part of a noisy crowd at the courthouse Thursday night, was disappointed by the reversal. The seventh-grader said she doesn't want homosexuals in the community. "It's not a Christian thing," said Kinney, identifying herself as a Baptist.

Rhea County, which is located about 35 miles north of Chattanooga, annually commemorates the 1925 trial at which Scopes, a high school teacher, was convicted of teaching evolution. The verdict was reversed on a technicality, and the trial became the subject of the play and movie Inherit the Wind.