JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (AP) — A proposed resolution opposing same-sex marriage has failed in the Washington County Commission.
Media outlets report that commissioners voted 12-11 to approve the resolution Tuesday. However, the resolution failed because 13 votes were needed to capture a majority of the 25-seat commission.
The vote came nearly six-and-a-half hours into the meeting, after a nearly hourlong discussion by commissioners on a measure to drop the resolution from the agenda and more than three hours of public comments.
Early in the meeting, Commissioner Joe Wise attempted to remove the resolution from the meeting's agenda on the basis that it was not relevant to county business. The 23 present commissioners seemed poised to drop the resolution from the agenda with the 13 votes needed for a majority. However, at the last minute, Commissioner Robbie McGuire asked to change his vote from "yes" to "no," putting the vote tally at 12-11 without a majority.
The resolution was introduced by Commissioner Forrest Boreing. It voiced opposition to the 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges extending a right to marry to same-sex couples, and asked state legislators to do everything within their powers to nullify the ruling and enforce the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman.
Boreing said he believes the influence of East Tennessee State University may have caused the resolution to fail.
"There are so many people from that school that showed up tonight. Most of the colleges do have more liberal attitudes, but that makes for good discussions," he said.
After the failure of the resolution, Boreing said the people of Washington County had spoken, saying he would not attempt to reintroduce a similar measure.
The failure of the resolution makes Washington County the only division so far in upper Northeast Tennessee not to pass a resolution against same-sex marriage when one comes before the board.