Could NC be next?

Published 7:02 am Monday, August 4, 2014

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Richmond, struck down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage last week, possibly clearing the way for a similar ruling on the ban in North Carolina.

The 2-1 ruling upheld a previous decision issued earlier this year by a Virginia district court, which struck down that state’s ban on gay marriages.

In addition to Virginia, the 4th Circuit’s jurisdiction includes South Carolina, North Carolina, and West Virginia, all of which currently have gay marriage bans in place.

In addition to Richmond, the appeals court in Denver, Colorado also upheld lower court rulings striking down state constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. This could make it possible for any of these cases to make their way to the U.S. Supreme Court in the coming months.

In the 2-1 Court of Appeals decision, the judges declared: “We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable. However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws. Civil marriage is one of the cornerstones of our way of life. It allows individuals to celebrate and publicly declare their intentions to form lifelong partnerships, which provide unparalleled intimacy, companionship, emotional support, and security. The choice of whether and whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individual’s life. Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot countenance.”

“It’s a slippery slope,” declares Rev. Rob Richardson, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Murfreesboro. “Morally, same-sex marriage is wrong. The concept of marriage between a man and a woman is biblical and it’s based on (Christian) belief.

“Jesus was concerned with everybody,” the minister added. “As pastors we teach members what we believe.  As citizens we have to be cognizant of rights and as Christians we have to be conscious of the moral understanding of biblical teaching.”

Richardson said he feels that same-sex marriage is an abomination in the sight of God and went on to say he would never perform a ceremony, and certainly not in his church.

“Not only could I not do it,” he stated, “I would have a tough time counseling on moral grounds because of my belief in the union of man and woman.”

The pastor deferred to taking a stand on the question of same-sex civil unions, saying,  “Biblical understanding tells us marriage is between a man and a woman; but we cannot sacrifice individual rights.”

Rev. Emanuel Webb Hoggard of Askewville Assembly of God Church says a ‘higher power’ shall make final judgment.

“Whether or not the voice and also the vote of the people are upheld is not the worry of the common citizen,” Hoggard said. “Constitutions should protect people from destructive trends, not lawfully adhere to them.”

The minister also quoted Old Testament scripture from the book of Joshua (24:15) in a reply, perhaps a reference of serving man versus living by faith in God. One must choose whom one will serve.

“The focus still for those who do not believe in same sex marriage, however, should be ‘…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’,” Hoggard stated.

Rev. David Ross, pastor of Ashley’s Grove Baptist Church near Conway in Northampton County, said he was strictly speaking for himself in his opinion.

“I expect that the federal ruling in Virginia will help those supporting gay marriage and seeking to overturn the will of the people of North Carolina as represented in its constitutional amendment on the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman,” Ross declared. “I believe that the rulings by federal courts of today have much more to do with politics than the law.   It’s only been with modern pressure to our elected and appointed officials that it has become an issue.”

The union of male and female bonding as one family, the preacher says, has existed throughout time.

“Marriage between one man and one woman was a settled issue within our nation for the previous 200 years,” Ross says.

“The issue really is not about gay couples being allowed to get married; they have always been able to do that,” he adds.  “The real issue is about whether the government will legitimize gay marriage.

“What the government recognizes, it affirms and makes moral,” he proposes. “That’s what gay people are really looking for: they want acceptance for their lifestyle.

“Studies have shown that children grow and develop best when they have both a mother and father who love and care for them.  Each parent, mother and father, brings different things into the parenting relationship that a child needs to grow, develop and succeed,” he said.

Ross ended his opinion with a note about responsibility and where it lies when the laws of man confront the laws of God.

“The government has an obligation to support the stability of society and stability of the home by affirming that ‘legal’ marriage is between one man and one woman. As a minister I understand that the Bible clearly teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman,” he concluded.