MANCHESTER, Tenn. — A Tennessee district attorney is under fire for saying he won’t prosecute domestic violence cases involving gay couples, reasoning that he doesn’t recognize gay marriages as valid.
Coffee County District Attorney Craig Northcott made the controversial statement while speaking at a 2018 Bible conference, local media reported. A video, titled “The Local Church's Role in Government,” shows Northcott making the statement while answering a question about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage.
"The reason that there's enhanced punishment on domestic violence is to recognize and protect the sanctity of marriage,” Northcott said. “And I said there's no marriage to protect. So I don't prosecute them as domestics."
The video was posted Monday to the blog, TN Holler.
Tennessee law on domestic violence is not strictly applied to relationships within a marriage, WKRN-TV reported. Northcott didn't address this in his remarks.
Chris Sanders, with the Tennessee Equality Project, told WTVF-TV he believes Northcott sounds like a "crackpot."
"When it happens, victims, survivors rely on those charged with enforcement of the law to protect them. And, in this case, it looks like we have a district attorney who is willfully ignoring the marital status, the relationships of members in our community, and not protecting them fully," Sanders said.
This isn’t Northcott’s first brush with controversy. In May, Northcott faced criticism for writing on Facebook that he believes all Muslims are “evil because they profess a commitment to an evil belief system," WTVF-TV reported.
In response, the Council on American-Islamic Relations filed a complaint with the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility, which regulates attorneys.
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