Gay Marriage: Local Religious and Political Leaders React to Pres. Obama


By Heather VacLav

Millions of Americans are talking about President Obama's decision to support same-sex marriage, including a number of political and religious leaders in the River Region.


”It is important for me personally to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama said in an interview on ABC news Wednesday.


Alabama’s only openly gay lawmaker, Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, says she is very proud of the President for coming forward with a clear opinion. “I am just thrilled to death, we are just one step closer to my ability to marry one I love legally,” Todd said.


But not everyone is as excited about President Obama’s announcement. While, many churches in Montgomery say they openly welcome members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community to worship with them, they’re faith does not allow them to marry them.


“[God] made a man and a woman; it was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve," said Montgomery’s First Baptist Church Pastor Jay Wolf. Wolf says God is the ultimate authority, and because the Bible does not foster same-sex marriage, he can not agree with it. Furthermore, Wolf said just because the President approves of gay marriage doesn’t mean the nation will agree with it.


“That would be political suicide for someone to say that they are going to champion a national law for same sex marriage, it’s almost inconceivable to me,” Wolf said.


Rep. Todd says the LGBT community has never said that churches should be forced to marry same-sex couples. “Churches have a right to practice their religion they want to, but I also have the right to practice and love the person I do, and be legally married to her in the eyes of the law,” she said.


St. Bede the Venerable Catholic Church says like First Baptist, it too welcomes all people to their church, but it cannot approve of either same-sex marriage or same-sex civil unions.


“If we were to say yes, civil unions should be allowed then we would be say that it’s okay for an immoral action to be legalized,” St. Bede’s Youth Minister Ryan Bravata said.


Rep. Todd says the debate surrounding gay marriage is nothing new, especially in the more traditional south, “We still have a ways to go in Alabama, but I will continue that fight,” she said.


Todd believes gay marriage will not be settled at the state level. She feels it will be treated the same way as a number of other social policies like civil rights and women's rights, ultimately decided upon by the Supreme Court.     


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