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Group urges East Tennesseans to speak for marriage equality

Tony Casey • Jan 3, 2016 at 4:01 PM

There’s been a trend sweeping across Tennessee and other conservative states since the historic Supreme Court ruling on June 26 mandating that the marriages of same-sex couples be recognized by all states.

Multiple municipalities are passing or considering resolutions opposing the ruling, giving Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, the suspicion that what they’re collectively trying to do is nullify the highest court in the land, though they don’t have that power.

“I don't know of any legal expert who thinks the state has a shot of nullifying that Supreme Court decision,” Sanders said.

Following the example of their political peers in Sullivan and Greene counties, the Unicoi County Commission recently joined the trend after viewing a presentation by the Family Action Council of Tennessee, a conservative group that seeks to ensure Tennessee follows traditional, biblical values. Unicoi County Attorney Doug Shults is reviewing two resolutions that would ask the Tennessee General Assembly to only recognize a marriage between one man and one woman.

“It’s a waste of taxpayer time and money,” Sanders said. “Perhaps the commissioners in Unicoi and Carter counties as well as those in Sullivan, Hawkins, Blount and Knox counties, among others who’ve tried to get behind similar resolutions, are unaware that so many taxpayers in their state support marriage equality.”

To that, Sanders and those involved with the Tennessee Equality Project are trying to make sure there’s a dissenting opinion at the county meetings in which such matters are decided. On Jan. 19, a group will collectively wear red and be heard at the Carter County Commission meeting, making sure they’re on the record as going against the biblically-based traditional marriage resolutions.

Unicoi County’s version of this will be considered Jan. 25.

“It’s important to connect with the people who think they’re alone in opposing this,” Sanders said. “There are a lot of people in Northeast Tennessee who think these resolutions are a bad idea.”

Despite watching so many elected officials follow the urging of groups like the Family Action Council of Tennessee, Sanders is still proud of the state in which he resides.

“I’m proud that every county clerk has been in compliance, and has been for months,” he said. “We’re better than just about every other southern state for that. I’m proud of the citizens of Tennessee for fighting for this.”

Email Tony Casey at [email protected]. Follow Tony Casey on Twitter @TonyCaseyJCP. Like him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tonycaseyjournalist.

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