POLITICS

Tennessee DA Says Gay People Aren't Entitled To Domestic Violence Protections

Coffee County District Attorney Craig Northcott recently refused calls to resign for calling Muslims inherently "evil" and "violent."

A Tennessee prosecutor who recently faced calls to resign for calling Muslims inherently “evil” is again facing controversy after video surfaced of him saying same-sex couples aren’t entitled to domestic violence protections.

Craig Northcott, district attorney general of Coffee County, was speaking about the local church’s role in government at a Bible conference in 2018 when he shared how his personal beliefs can create conflict in his professional life.

“Are you going to do what God says, or are you going to do what man says?” he said when asked about same-sex marriage being legalized at the federal level. The video, posted online by Dean Bible Ministries, was first reported by Nashville station News Channel 5 on Monday.

Craig Northcott, district attorney general of Coffee County, Tennessee, was filmed saying same-sex couples aren't entitled to
Craig Northcott, district attorney general of Coffee County, Tennessee, was filmed saying same-sex couples aren't entitled to domestic violence protections and that he will not prosecute those crimes.

“I disagree with it, what I do with domestic assaults,” he said in the video. “On the one hand, I don’t prosecute them because I don’t recognize it as marriage. On the other hand, if I don’t prosecute him, then the sinner, the immoral guy, gets less punishment. What do you do?

“I said there’s no marriage to protect, so I don’t prosecute as domestic [violence], and that is one of many decisions like that that you face,” he said of his role as DA.

Northcott added that in order to navigate around federal court rulings like the 2015 Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, local communities should elect Christian officials, particularly district attorneys, reasoning that “you all give us a lot of authority, whether you know it or not.”

“DAs have what’s called prosecutorial discretion,” he said. “We can choose to prosecute anything, or we can choose not to prosecute anything up to and including murder. It’s our choice. ... To deal with that, you elect a good Christian DA.”

Northcott’s office and the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The state attorney general’s office declined comment to HuffPost, referring it to the state’s Board of Professional Responsibility, which handles violations of the state’s Rules of Professional Conduct.

In an email to HuffPost, a representative for the Board of Professional Responsibility said they are unable to comment on the matter unless public discipline is imposed or formal proceedings are filed against the attorney. 

The office of Coffee County’s mayor also declined to comment, stating the mayor is out of office due to health reasons.

Chris Sanders of Tennessee Equality Project said that one way or another, Northcott needs to leave office.

It appears he thinks he’s acting as God’s instrument in this case. Chris Sanders of the Tennessee Equality Project

“In this case, it looks like we have a district attorney who is willfully ignoring the marital status, the relationships, of members of our community and not protecting them fully,” he told News Channel 5. “He is the one being the social engineer, picking and choosing which parts of the law he will enforce, and it appears he thinks he’s acting as God’s instrument in this case.”

Northcott previously refused calls to apologize and resign in May after he was found to have posted Islamophobic comments on Facebook in mid-April.

Northcott, in a since-deleted Facebook post, argued that Muslims “by definition” support an “evil belief system whether they understand/act on it or not.” He went on to say that they are not entitled to constitutional protection because of their religious beliefs.

“There are no constitutional rights. There are God given rights protected by the constitution. If you don’t believe in the one true God, there is nothing to protect. No one other than God has given us any rights,” Northcott reportedly wrote.

He later stood by his words.

“If they figured I would apologize for calling hate in any form evil, they miscalculated,” he said in response to the backlash on Facebook. “If they expect me to denounce my faith because of their tactics, they are going to be disappointed.”

The Tennessee Equality Project has invited anyone who has experienced domestic violence in Coffee County and believes they were mistreated to contact the organization.

This story has been updated with responses from the state attorney general’s office and the mayor’s office.

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