By Steve Megaree, Associated Press
MARYVILLE, Tennessee — A resolution asking God to have mercy on a Tennessee county for issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples apparently didn’t have a prayer of being considered Tuesday.
The sudden adjournment shocked the 150 citizens who packed into the meeting room. Some of the attendees expressed their disbelief by shouting “Cowards!” and “You’ve got to be kidding me!”
Neither supporters nor detractors seemed to know what the committee’s ruling meant for the resolution in the long run.
“I’ve never experienced this before, for a meeting to be adjourned before it even started,” said Blount County Commissioner Karen Miller, who proposed the resolution and voted against adjourning. “I don’t know what the protocols are for that, and I hope it’ll be corrected because it’s not fair to the citizens. They’ve come a long way to speak, and they should be allowed to speak.”
Miller said she “most likely” would try to reintroduce the measure.
The resolution says Blount County must comply with the Supreme Court ruling by issuing and recognizing marriage licenses for same-sex couples. But the resolution asks state officials including the governor and attorney general to protect “natural marriage” from “lawless” court opinions and defend moral standards.
It also appeals directly to God.
“We adopt this resolution before God that He pass us by in His Coming Wrath and not destroy our County as He did Sodom and Gomorrah,” the resolution states.
The meeting room was filled to capacity, with the vast majority wearing red to signify support for same-sex marriage and opposition to the resolution. About 100 other people wearing red were gathered outside the Blount County Courthouse, where the meeting took place.
“I’m definitely looking to find out more answers, but I do think that we sent a message today,” said Gwen Schablik, the area chair for the Tennessee Equality Project, a gay-rights advocacy group. “I think the message was that we do not support this resolution. We are against the message that it is sending. There are many other issues that we need to be working on in this county.”
Outside the courthouse, same-sex marriage supporters gathered on one side of the building and a handful of people carrying signs in support of the resolution stood on the other.
The majority of those who gathered outside supporting the measure came from out of state, including Steve Widdows of Iron Station, North Carolina, who said he drove four hours to make his point.
“Today it’s like it’s OK to say anything goes, but it’s not OK,” Widdows said. “If our grandparents could come and be plopped down in this courthouse tonight, I don’t know what they would say, but I know what the thrust of it would be. ‘No way. No way for this.'”
Further, the News Sentinel explains the parliamentary situation:
More than 120 attendees crowded the commission chambers at the Blount County Courthouse in Maryville to speak at what was technically the commission’s agenda committee meeting to approve agenda items for the Oct. 15 meeting.
Before anyone could speak to the proposed resolution, though, the draft agenda failed to win approval in a 10-5 vote, nixing all the agenda items and effectively canceling next week’s commission meeting itself. There was no discussion before the vote. Six commissioners were absent from Tuesday’s meeting.
The commissioners abruptly adjourned the meeting after the vote. Most of the members immediately left the room amid boos and shouts of “Coward!” from attendees.