Coffee County, Tennessee, District Attorney Craig Northcott is facing calls for resignation after a video of him recorded last year describing a situation in which he would not prosecute the laws equally for couples in same-sex marriages within his jurisdiction became viral this past week.
According to the video of an event he spoke at, which was entitled “The Local Church’s Role in Government,” Northcott was asked by a constituent a question about a “hypothetical” situation in which the federal government imposed a law or ruling on state or local governments — similar to the 2015 ruling by the Supreme Court that recognized marriage equality across the nation.
What should Northcott, or any other Christian lawmaker, do in such a situation, the constituent asked.
Northcott responded by pointing out that “five people in black dresses rule us — it just takes five votes, it doesn’t take all nine,” a dig at the Supreme Court itself. He said he had a simple solution to such problems: just don’t prosecute citizens equally if they’re gay.
“DAs have what’s called prosecutorial discretion…We can choose to prosecute anything, we can choose not to prosecute anything, up to and including murder,” Northcott said, per reporting from NBC News. “It’s our choice, unfettered.”
From there, Northcott explained that “the social engineers on the Supreme Court decided that we now have homosexual marriage,” and that he disagreed with their ruling. But from it, he can make a decision — a tough one he conceded — on how to handle laws meant to protect people in violent relationships.
“What do I do with domestic assaults? One hand, I don’t prosecute them, because I don’t recognize it as marriage, on the other hand, if I don’t prosecute them, then the sinner, the immoral guy, gets less punishment — what do you do?” Northcott asked rhetorically.
Ultimately, the DA concluded that “the reason that there’s enhanced punishment on domestic violence is to recognize and protect the sanctity of marriage,” he explained. “And I said, ‘there’s no marriage to protect.’ So I don’t prosecute them as domestics.”
Northcott’s words were met with condemnation, and LGBT groups were prompted to request his resignation.
“He should explore resigning from office at this point, because he has expressed very clearly that he will not apply the law equally, and we think that’s his duty,” Chris Sanders, executive director of Tennessee Equality, said.
Northcott appeared to defend his comments from last year this past week, according to The Washington Post. When asked over the phone whether he wanted to amend his views, Northcott reiterated his claim: “There’s no marriage to protect with homosexual relationships, so I don’t prosecute them as domestic,” he said.
Watch the video below:
Featured image: screen grab