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Hartselle responds to same-sex marriage

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that all 50 states should recognize same-sex marriage.

The 5-4 decision was a reflection of the changing public opinion, according to other news reports.

The court ruled that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges and three related cases.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote the majority opinion and he was joined by Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg and Breyer, leaving Roberts, Scalia, Alito and Thomas dissenting.

Kennedy’s opinion was based on equality granted be the Constitution.

“They ask for equality in the eyes of the law,” Kennedy said. “The Constitution grants them that right.”

Roberts disagreed with the Kennedy’s decision, saying it has “nothing to do with the Constitution.”

“If you are among the many Americans- of whatever sexual orientation- who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all mean’s celebrate today’s decision,” Roberts said. “Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”

President Barack Obama congratulated the lead plaintiff outside the court after the ruling.

“I just wanted to say congratulations,” Obama said. “Your leadership has changed the country.”

“Americans should be very proud,” Obama said later in the White House.

Before the ruling, 36 states allowed same-sex marriage. The ruling overturned the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which previously held that states had a right to choose whether or not to allow same-sex marriage.

Alabama-based U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade specifically applied today’s ruling to Alabama’s 68 probate judges May 21. Granade made the initial ruling to allow same-sex marriage in Alabama Jan. 23 that has been debated throughout the state ever since.

The ruling affirmed two questions: could state ban same-sex marriage, and did states have to recognize lawful marriages performed outside the state? Granade’s order made the ruling take effect immediately in Alabama’s probate courts, granting full marriage benefits to all legally married couples.

Alabama, and even more so Hartselle, is historically conservative, but that does not mean that the ruling was either strictly supported or opposed. Area people had mixed emotions over the ruling.

Jack Redfearn, pastor at West Hartselle Baptist and a veteran of the Marines, staunchly opposed the Court’s decision.

“I’m obviously disappointed in the ruling,” Redfearn said. “I think that states should be allowed to decide for themselves. I think this is a moral issue, not a Constitutional one. The government is shoving it down our throats, but I think the government needs to be taking a stands on other issues like racism.”

Redfearn said he would not bend on his beliefs.

“I would not perform weddings for same-sex couples,” Redfearn said. “Our bylaws say a minister would be dismissed if they did, and I agree with that system. The Southern Baptists have passed several statements affirming our love for people but also telling our stance. As churches, we have to look at it as a sin among many other sins. It’s a sin just like any other such as an unmarried man and woman living together, child abusers or anything else. The church wasn’t seen as a hate group 10 years ago, but it is now. I don’t hate gay people, and I don’t have a right to hate. I try not to let someone’s sexual orientation change how I treat them as a human, but I don’t know of a Southern Baptist pastor in the county that would back down on this issue.”

Redfearn said it’s a tough issue the church is currently facing.

“How do you show your love for people while not compromising your stance on the issue?” Redfearn asked. “That’s something that all churches struggle with- finding that balance of showing love without condoning the sin. There’s going to be a big fight over this, but no matter what we’re not going to change our beliefs.”

Along with the ruling’s opposition, were the supporters. Brye Forbes, 24, was amazed that the Court decided in favor of same-sex marriage, thinking a ruling like this would never happen.

“I think it’s amazing, because we are finally given equality,” Forbes said. “I can’t believe it’s happened. I’m so glad to have the same opportunity as straight people. Growing up in Alabama, I’ve been teased and criticized for my decisions from time to time since I came out in high school. I see it as a big step since we can’t get turned down even if there’s criticism along the way. I look at it like racism. Racism used to be much worse with terrible segregation, and even though it’s not perfect, it’s so much better and people eventually felt differently about the issue. I definitely felt like I was being treated like less of a person, and now my equality is the same as a straight couple. I can tell that my future will be bright.”