Commission approves resolution supporting ‘traditional marriage’
Published 9:59 am Thursday, January 21, 2016
Members of the Carter County Commission passed a resolution asking the state to support the traditional concept of marriage as being between one man and one woman by an overwhelming majority on Tuesday.
The meeting Tuesday was a marathon session that began at 9 a.m. and lasted until nearly 11 p.m., with Commissioners taking breaks for lunch and dinner. One of the things contributing to the length of the meeting was the number of citizens who spoke during the public comments, many of them addressing the resolution regarding marriage.
The language of the resolution states it is “to request the State of Tennessee through legislative and legal action to reaffirm the State of Tennessee’s authority to regulate domestic relations including but not limited to the traditional concept of marriage as between one man and one woman.”
This resolution is being circulated to counties across the state by a political action committee in response to the June 2015 ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court that declared all state laws, regulations or constitutional amendments that denied same-sex couples the right to marry were unconstitutional and ordered states to begin issuing marriage licenses to those couples.
Because the resolution asks the state to go against a federal ruling, there is speculation that the federal government could withhold funding that subsidizes public assistance programs — such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), TennCare subsidies and federal programs through the school system such as HeadStart and the school nutrition program.
A number of citizens spoke regarding the resolution — some voicing their support and others asking the commission to vote against it.
“These threats from the federal government rarely materialize,” said resident Joe Newman. “Other states aren’t caving in.”
Newman questioned the Supreme Court’s ruling and said laws should reflect the teachings of the Bible.
“The Creator has ultimate power and the state’s laws should reflect that,” he said, adding that Christians have a duty to stand up to “a tyrannical government.”
Resident Jennifer Savage questioned how anyone could consider voting for the resolution knowing it could risk federal funding to programs that support needy children.
“That money goes to help sick kids and feed hungry kids through TennCare and SNAP,” Savage said. “The fact that you are willing to take that risk says a lot about the morals involved.”
Some quoted scriptures from the Bible during their statements.
Pastor Bill Younce, from the Lighthouse for Jesus Church, asked for someone to show him a scripture that allows same-sex marriage.
“I challenge you to go through this Bible, this is the King James Version and the only version I use, and go through it from Genesis to Revelation and find me one place where it says God created man for man,” Younce said. “It takes a real Christian to stand up for what’s right.”
Sandra Garrett offered a different scripture for commissioners to consider when she asked them to vote down the resolution.
“While the state has the authority to define domestic relations, that does not mean it should limit them,” she said, adding that to do so would relegate some to “second class” citizenship. “This is a matter of states’ rights and the decision to be childish and petulant. And, I think it’s time to ‘put away childish things.’ If you want to quote the Bible there it is.”
When the time came to discuss the resolution, Commissioner Al Meehan stood and objected to consideration of the resolution, stating the Commission meeting was “not the appropriate place to make political statements” regarding state or federal issues. An objection to consideration requires a two-thirds majority vote in order to pass and remove an item from discussion, and Meehan’s objection failed to garner enough votes.
Commissioner Ray Lyons made a motion to approve the resolution, which was seconded by Commissioner Nancy Brown.
During discussion, Commissioner Mike Hill echoed the sentiment expressed by some during the public comments regarding the possibility of federal funds being withheld. He said the Tennessee Legislature is already working on a bill that would express the sentiment reflected in the resolution.
“I’m told it will never pass on the state level, but are we willing to roll the dice?” Hill asked. “I can’t in good conscience vote on this,” he added.
Other commissioners voice their support of the resolution as well as their support of the traditional concept of marriage.
“God set this up between man and woman,” Commissioner Willie Campbell said. “He didn’t make Adam and Steve.”
Commissioner Larry “Doc” Miller also voiced his support of the Biblical concept. “If man approves a sin, it doesn’t make it right,” Miller said. “Sin is still sin in the eyes of God.”
Prior to the vote, Lyons challenged his fellow commissioners to take a stand.
“For those of us that have professed to be Christians all year long, it’s time for you to stand up and show it,” he said.
When put to a vote, the resolution was approved on a vote of 20-0, with two commissioners, Hill and Sonja Culler, abstaining from the vote.