Local reactions are mixed on the Supreme Court’s decision to extend same-sex marriage nationwide.
The Supreme Court declared Friday that same-sex couples have the right to marry anywhere in the United States, according to the Associated Press. The court’s 5-4 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges means the 14 states banning same-sex marriage will have to stop enforcing those bans.
For Josh Detherage, of Cole Camp, he said the ruling has “opened a door.”
“I’m very happy, I think we are on the right side of history,” he said. “What was actually constitutionally promised to us by our founding fathers has been fulfilled, which is the right and correct thing to do.”
While Detherage doesn’t have plans to take advantage of his new right any time soon, he said what’s important is he now has the option to do so.
“It opens up the door for me to now marry at the leisure to which I choose,” he said. “I previously lived in Arizona, it was legal and then amended so it was illegal. Both states I’ve lived in it’s been illegal, so for this to actually happen, for me personally it feels like a door opened for me.”
While opinions are a mixed bag at this point throughout the country and state, Detherage said he feels the new ruling will only continue to improve the positive local environment he has experienced.
“Something of this nature is going to be polarizing for obvious reasons. What you’ll find in this area is there is a lot of pride for people who are from here and who live here,” Detherage said. “I think that allows those views and ideas to be widened and I personally feel very comfortable and at home — I’ve never experienced any discrimination of any form due to the fact this is a great community with people more concerned about love than they are about hatred.”
Pettis County Recorder of Deeds Barbara Clevenger said the decision by the Supreme Court will be carried out, but there are some software problems that must be addressed first.
“It is my understanding there will be at least a three-week period before our office can sell any licenses because it is my understanding that there is a period for arguments to be heard against the ruling,” she said.
Clevenger said Friday morning she hadn’t heard from the State Recorder of Deeds Association, but they will have to change each system of software in the state to accommodate the ruling.
“I really don’t know how long that will take because we don’t know where Pettis County falls on the list,” she said. “No matter how long it may take to do this I will issue licenses to any couple who requests one because that is what the Statutes say the office must do.”
However, later on Friday the Recorders’ Association of Missouri president, Jan Jones, said she’s asking officials to begin granting licenses as soon as possible, according to AP. Jones said she hadn’t heard of any county recorders opting to wait the full 25 days until the decision is official.
While same-sex marriage licenses were not issued in Pettis County immediately as in other Missouri counties, local members of the church community have already been voicing their opinions on the matter.
Chris Kellogg, pastor for Our Savior Lutheran Church, said he is disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision.
“Well, they certainly don’t know the Scriptures, do they?” Kellogg said. “I think they have crossed the line, and I think they have done this to appease the radical left, and there’s no Biblical foundation or Constitutional foundation, because I’m convinced no society has survived this liberal radicalism, and history proves it.
“Come, Lord Jesus.”
While Kellogg disagrees with the decision, Pastor Kimberly Knowle-Zeller at Christ & Trinity Lutheran Church said she supports it.
“I had tears in my eyes after hearing the SCOTUS decision to allow marriage equality in all 50 states,” Knowle-Zeller said. “I thought of my friends who have been denied the rights given to me and my husband, and I thought about how long and hard people have been fighting for this moment. I think of those who have risked so much for this fight in equality.
“I also think of Jesus and his call to love our neighbors, all our neighbors, and to see them experience the basic rights we should all have.
“I am also aware many people are unhappy and frustrated with the decision, but I’ve known too many in the LGBT community who have felt lost and isolated and not welcome,” she said. “As a person of faith, I believe it makes a difference to name that everyone is welcome, and everyone deserves the chance to experience that ‘marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death’ (as written in the SCOTUS decision).”
Government officials representing Missouri also expressed differing opinions on the Supreme Court’s decision.
U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, who represents Missouri’s Fourth District, expressed her disappointment Friday in a statement, saying the Court’s decision stifles the voices of Missouri’s voters.
“Decisions on marriage policy should be left in the hands of the 50 states, allowing those who wish to define marriage as being between one man and one woman, as we did in Missouri, to do so,” Hartzler said. “Today’s ruling tramples on the voice of the people. I will continue to champion marriage as the union between one man and one woman so every child has the opportunity to have both a mom and a dad.”
Gov. Jay Nixon, in a statement Friday, spoke favorably on the Supreme Court’s decision as a major victory for equality and an important step toward a fairer and more just society for all Americans.
“No one should be discriminated against because of who they are or who they love,” Nixon said. “In the coming days, I will be taking all necessary and appropriate actions to ensure this decision is implemented throughout the state of Missouri.”
State representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union lauded the decision.
“The overwhelming change in public opinion regarding marriage equality is astonishing, even to those of us who have worked on LGBT rights for decades,” said Jeffrey A. Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Missouri. “Today’s decision makes marriage equality the law of the land. This is a day that will be noted in history books for Missouri’s same-sex couples, and all Americans, who had to wait to obtain a marriage license so they can marry in their home state.”
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, just as he did in the court’s previous three major gay rights cases dating back to 1996. It came on the anniversary of two of those earlier decisions.
“No union is more profound than marriage,” Kennedy wrote, joined by the court’s four more liberal justices.
The four dissenting justices each filed a separate opinion explaining their views.
“But this court is not a legislature. Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in dissent. Roberts read a summary of his dissent from the bench, the first time he has done so in nearly 10 years as chief justice.
Justice Antonin Scalia said he is not concerned so much about same-sex marriage, but about “this court’s threat to American democracy.” Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas also dissented.