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    Supporters of Anti-Gay Marriage Bill Rally in Tennessee, Say ‘Cost of Tolerance is AIDS’

    Hate Group Rallies Outside Capitol Before Wednesday Hearing on 'Natural Defense of Marriage Act'

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    Supporters of the anti-gay marriage bill set to be considered by a Tennessee House committee on Wednesday rallied outside the Capitol in Nashville this morning. They also reportedly circled the building in a pickup truck carrying a large sign reading, "The Cost of Tolerance: AIDS." 

    The extremist group behind Tuesday's protest, DefyTyrants.com, hosted the event in December where GOP state Rep. Mark Pody stated that God told him to file House Bill 1412, known as the "Tennessee Defense of Natural Marriage Act," because same-sex marriage is "wicked." The bill would eliminate marriage equality in Tennessee by requiring officials to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, at a potential cost of $8.5 billion annually to the state.

    Pody spoke with supporters Tuesday:

    On the eve of Wednesday's hearing on the bill before the House Civil Justice Subcommittee, Nashville Scene's Pith in the Wind, which first reported on the offensive sign, posted a photo of it to Twitter:

    Nashville Scene adds that a handful of protesters from DefyTyrants.com held Bibles and anti-gay signs as they gathered on a sidewalk outside the Capitol. 

    “I’m a United States veteran and a citizen of North Carolina, which is in the United States,” protester Alan Hoyle told Nashville Scene. “I swore an oath to defend the Constitution, and the Constitution says nothing about marriage, and a court can’t decide on marriage. No judge can make a law. A judge cannot rule against the people. We’re for natural marriage.”

    DefyTyrants.com is the brainchild of Matt Trewhella, a radical Christian preacher from Wisconsin who once signed a statement in defense of the murder of abortion providers

    Trewhella espouses a theory called “interposition of the lesser magistrate,” which is essentially the idea that elected officials have a Godly duty to "stand in the gap" by defying court rulings that go against so-called divine law. In fact, Trewhella has criticized the anti-LGBT Liberty Counsel for using "religious liberty" as the basis for its defense of Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, calling it "nonsense." 

    “She shouldn’t be just trying to keep little Kim Davis from having to have her hand in the process of this abomination, two men or two women marrying," Trewhella has said of Davis. "Her duty is far bigger than that. She actually has the duty to defy the higher authority completely and interpose on behalf of righteousness and therefore abate the just judgment of God upon our nation. That’s what true interposition of the lesser magistrate entails.”  

    Trewhella was the keynote speaker at a rally supporting Pody's bill in December, where the lawmaker told the crowd that God spoke to him personally during prayer and said his role was to fight marriage equality. Before Trewhella spoke, an unidentified man introduced him by saying: “Listen folks, we will not win without casualties. People get hurt in war. It’s a consequence of it. But if we don’t go to war, untold millions following us will be destroyed.”

    Nashville Scene notes that Trewhella has also called for churches to form militias, and told his followers to buy their children assault rifles

    Meanwhile, the Human Rights Campaign released a statement Tuesday slamming Pody's bill. 

    “The Supreme Court of the United States has unequivocally settled the issue once and for all by making clear that loving and committed same-sex couples have the fundamental right to marry,” HRC legal director Sarah Warbelow said. “This legislation is thoroughly unconstitutional, and it would no doubt cost taxpayers significantly in a vain, injudicious attempt to undermine marriage equality for LGBT Tennesseans.”

    Also Tuesday, two more county commissions in Tennessee were set to vote on resolutions supporting the bill. Five county commissions in the state have already passed similar resolutions. 

    The Tennessee Equality Project is encouraging LGBT advocates and allies to attend the county commission meetings, as well as the legislative hearing, wearing red. 

    "Rep. Pody's visions are dangerous because he claims a basis for making public policy available just for him and those like him —his belief that divine voices are calling him to thwart the rights of others," TEN Executive Director Chris Sanders said recently. "Hearing divine voices as a basis for lawmaking may have worked for Moses, but Rep. Pody's bill will not lead us to the Promised Land. It may actually lead to more violence against the LGBT community." 

    For people like Trewhella, that's apparently the goal. Watch his speech at the rally in support of the bill below. 

     

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