The resolution was approved 13-3 with three abstentions, but it may be a moot point.
Last week in Nashville a proposed Tennessee bill that sought to defy the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage was defeated in committee by a vote of 4-1.
Tennessee legislators have stated that bill is now all but dead due to the potential loss of $8.5 billion in federal funding that Tennessee would put in jeopardy by defying federal law.
“We might not like the law, but we’re bound by what the Supreme Court has ruled,” Hawkins County Attorney Jim Phillips told the commission Monday. “Unless the Supreme Court changes it’s mind somewhere down the line, that law is going to stay in place. It’s not going to be overturned by the Tennessee legislature, or any other legislature.”
In light of the death of the bill, on Monday Commissioner John Metz suggested tabling the resolution.
Metz suggested reworking the resolution similar to how the commission reworked it’s annual resolution asking the General Assembly to reinstate elected school superintendents.
Instead of a resolution representing the commission as a whole, Metz suggested that those commissioners who so desire could sign their name to a resolution every year and send it to the General Assembly for consideration.
When Metz asked for a second to his motion to table, however, Commissioner B.D. Cradic, who sponsored the resolution, answered with a resounding, “No!”
“And I’ll say this here, that we’re governed by the higher powers than man down here,” Cradic said. “... The Bible says if you gain the whole world and lose your souls, what would it benefit you. ... Each one of us one day, we gonna die, and we gonna face God, whether you realize it or not. It’s a time that we take a stand on what our beliefs are.
Cradic quoted and/or paraphrased several bible verses pertaining to marriage. He said everyone commissioner would be held accountable by God for what they say and how they voted Monday.
“God, he loves everybody,” Cradic said. “I love everybody as well. But there’s certain things in the Bible that goes against nature itself.”
Cradic added, “This morning politics has butted itself into religion. I myself, I gotta vote my conscience and my heart, because one day I will stand in front of God. You will too, whether you realize it or not.”
Metz replied, “I think it would make a bigger statement to actually pen your signature to a resolution rather than it go out saying the Commission as a whole. I think that makes a bolder stance.”
Metz said the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects religion, but it also inhibits religion from taking over government.
“I believe (the resolution) is terribly divisive on a local level,” Metz added. “My personal preference actually differs from my preference as an elected official.”
Commissioner Joe McLain said he swore to support and defend the U.S. Constitution when he took his oath upon joining the Navy, as well as when he took his oath upon being elected to the county commission.
“This (resolution) is in conflict with the oath that we’ve taken,” McLain said. “How can we reconcile that.
Cradic relied, “They have turned the law of the land into all kind of different things contrary to the word of God. Based on that my oath first of all is to serve God.”
Commissioner Eugene Christian recognized Jody Erwin of Mount Carmel to address the commission before it voted on Cradic’s resolution.
Erwin told commissioners they don’t have to agree with gay marriage, but they do need to remember their responsibility to uphold the U.S. Constitution and the rights of approximately 256 citizens of Hawkins County who identify themselves as LGBT.
“I’m here today to express my horror at a group using religious indignation to suppress this small minority,” Erwin told the commission. “If they had come before you first with a resolution condemning divorce, a subject that’s well covered in the Bible, and a real threat to over half of all marriages, I might believe that they are trying to uphold the sanctity of marriage. Since this is not the case, I must conclude it’s homophobic hysteria, which makes them the problem.”
Erwin added, “Gays do not choose to be gay, no more than left handed people choose to be left handed. You do not speak for all Christians, at least not the ones who live by the red words.”
Commissioners who voted in favor of the resolution Thursday included Cradic, Syble V. Trent, Fred Castle, Jeff Barrett, Danny Alvis, Greg Fletcher, Linda Kimbro, Dawson Fields, Mark Linkous, Darrell Gilliam, Charlie Newton, Robert Palmer, and Michael Herrell
Those who voted against were McLain, metz, and Glenda Davis.
Those who abstained were Christian, Dwight Carter and Shane Bailey.