The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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June 26, 2013

Joplin’s LGBT community celebrates Supreme Court rulings

Same-sex marriage opponents express dismay

JOPLIN, Mo. — Members of Joplin’s LGBT community and supporters on Wednesday celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions related to same-sex marriage. Those who oppose same-sex marriage said the rulings were troublesome.

LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

“In my mind, it is the righting of a wrong,” said AmyKay Cole, faculty adviser of the Equality Alliance at Missouri Southern State University. “It’s long overdue and cause for tremendous celebration.”

Cole, who is heterosexual, said it is wrong that she has rights that aren’t available to LGBTs.

“It’s a gross injustice that I have rights that other people don’t have,” she said. “It’s offensive to me.”

Cole said everyone has a right to religious beliefs regarding marriage equality, but no one has a right to impose those beliefs on others.

“I’m extremely happy and excited about what is going to come for us in the future for the LGBT community,” said Kristen Stacy, president of the MSSU Equality Alliance.

Lee McDaniel, president of the Joplin Gay Lesbian Center, was vacationing in Rhode Island, where he planned to celebrate with a marriage equality group with a champagne toast in a national park.

“I feel excited,” McDaniel said. “I think these are both historic decisions. The court didn’t want to embrace a separate-but-equal definition of marriage.”

McDaniel, who is gay, said it was no time to become comfortable and complacent.

“The fight for equality isn’t over,” he said. He said the rulings don’t establish the right for gay people to marry in Missouri, and they don’t require Missouri to recognize same-sex marriages if they’re performed in a state where it’s legal.

Same-sex couples who were married and live in states that allow same-sex marriage are eligible for federal benefits under one of the rulings.

“Equal marriage will inevitably come to every state,” McDaniel said. “It’s a civil rights issue that’s moving forward. It’s not moving back.”

Carrie Coffey, board chairman of Joplin Pride, said she hopes the decisions will open eyes and hearts.

“I think it’s pretty exciting,” she said. “I think it’s a good step in the right direction.”

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