News today from Rhea County, Tennessee where county commissioners have just voted 8-0 to ban homosexual acts. “We need to keep them out of here,” said Commissioner J.C. Fugate, who introduced the motion – and who appears to be blissfully unaware that the US Supreme Court has recently ruled otherwise.
Located in the Appalachians, 30 miles north of Chattanooga, Rhea County is famous as the site of the 1925 Scopes Trial which resulted in teacher, John Scopes being convicted of teaching evolution. It seems that no-one in Rhea County is descended from monkeys, though it’s less clear as to whether romantic interludes with mules and cows might not have contributed to the current population.
The Commissioners’ fears may be misplaced. A quick check reveals that Rhea County has yet to make it onto the list of highly desirable gay locales despite the obviously intoxicating allure of the County’s name. If I was J.C. Fugate, I’d be more worried about getting the County’s name changed before all this notoriety gives some people entirely the wrong idea.
After the deluge of world attention, some Rhea County commissioners are now saying that they didn’t know what they were voting for. Strictly off the record, Commissioner Edna Purvis Peabody observed:
“I thought JC was sayin’ it was the rays. We had to keep the rays outta here and having just spent all that money on new county commission furniture, why, blinds sounded like a fine idea to me.”
Other commissioners apparently thought the vote was just about gay marriage.
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.
And in breaking news…….
Rhea County commissioners have voted to rescind their earlier ban by the same vote as that which enacted it – 8-0
The Chattanoogan reports that a “carnival atmosphere” prevailed as the commissioners filed in (under police guard) voted and swiftly departed.
But let me share The Chattanoogan’s atmospherics
“Demonstrators from both sides sparred heatedly inside and outside the historic courthouse.
The controversial vote had brought media attention from throughout the country.
June Griffin, a Christian activist, said the commissioners had bowed to “pressure from the liberal press.”
She said, “We need to raise a better generation that won’t chicken out.” She said the majority of Rhea County residents supported the resolution.
Mrs. Griffin said she did not believe there are any gays living in Rhea County. She said, “Anyone I ever suspect, I go up and ask them directly.” She said anyone she had asked had denied it.
But Daniel Shipley said he lives in Graysville near the Hamilton County line and is “gay and proud of it.”
He walked up to June Griffin and said, “Honey, I’m gay and I want you to know I’m dressed as good as you.”
Mr. Shipley said there are “a lot of gays in Rhea County.”
One man at the brief meeting said the commission “kicked a hornet nest. They’ve made a laughingstock of Rhea County.”
A man from Dunlap, who had a truck with anti-gay writing on it, was passing out tracts. The truck said, “Sodomites Don’t Produce, They Recruit.”
A number of young people demonstrated against the resolution.
One held a sign that said, “Judge not that ye be not judged.”
Another said, “The Gluttonous Are Next” – an apparent reference to the portly JC Fugate, the commissioner who orginally moved the banning motion.”
It’s wonderful stuff!