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Unicoi County advances resolution opposing gay marriage

Sue Guinn Legg • Updated Dec 29, 2015 at 10:09 AM

ERWIN — Unicoi County appears poised to become the next in a growing number of Tennessee counties to join a state and national movement calling for an override of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage.

Following a presentation by members of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, the Unicoi County Commission on Monday voted to have County Attorney Doug Shults review two versions of a resolution asking the Tennessee General Assembly to uphold the state constitution’s definition of marriage as a legal contract between one man and one woman and to refuse to accept the federal Supreme Court’s “lawless” opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges as “a binding precedent for any parties other than those involved” in the landmark case.

The first resolution is the same one adopted earlier this year by Johnson County commissioners and the second is a similar resolution drafted by FACT attorney and former state legislator Doug Fowler that local FACT representatives Charlene Thomas and David Crutchfield said was more constitutionally sound.

In addition to Johnson County, Thomas said similar resolutions have already been adopted in Sullivan, Greene and McMinn counties. Hawkins County commissioners are expected to their give second and final reading, then approval, of the resolution in January and FACT is currently working toward the passage the resolution in Carter County.

Under questioning from Unicoi County Commissioner Glenn White about the need for the general assemblies of 38 of the 50 states to join in a call for a constitutional convention to overcome the federal supremacy of the Supreme Court ruling, Crutchfield said the resolution is the first step toward that end.

Thomas said two bills will be introduced in the next session of the state General Assembly that, if passed, would likewise move Tennessee toward an override of the gay marriage ruling and organized opposition to the ruling is also gaining momentum in other states.

Commission Chairwoman Marie Rice requested Shults study the two resolutions and draft a resolution for the Unicoi County Commission to consider at it January meeting. 

“I would like to see each of the commissioners sign it,” Rice said.

White, who said he supported the one-man, one-woman definition of marriage, made a motion to table the resolution until January. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Jason Harris and passed by a voice vote of the full commission without any vote in opposition.

In other business, the commission accepted a recommendation from its Inmate Health Care Committee to draft a contract with Rural Health Services of Unicoi for medical services to the county jail and jail annex.

Rice said the committee, made up of herself, Commission Vice Chairwoman Bridgett Peters, the Unicoi County Jail Administrator and other county officials, reviewed the contract proposal and a similar RHS contract with Johnson County and found them to be more cost-efficient and “probably“ an improvement on health care currently available to the county’s inmates.

Pending a vote by the commission, Rice said Shults will work out the terms of the contract while RHS and Sheriff Mike Hensley negotiate a protocol for its implementation.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

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