By Roger McKinney
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.”
‘LAWS OF NATURE’
Not all were celebrating.
John Putnam, of Carthage, is chairman of the Jasper County Republican Central Committee. He also is an organizer of the Southwest Missouri Conservative Network.
“If there is no definition of marriage, I don’t know how civil society can go forward,” Putnam said. “Will group marriages then be the next thing that the court decides? It seems like Congress should define marriage, not men and women in black robes.”
Putnam said the rulings are confusing.
“The decision to not recognize one man and one woman as the institution of marriage disrupts the principles that have made Western civilization successful in the past,” he said.
State Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, said he hadn’t carefully studied the rulings.
“I’m concerned that the courts are looked at more and more as if they were the standard for righteousness, rather than using an application of the law,” he said, noting that the court was divided.
He said he favors leaving the decision about same-sex marriage to states.
“I would think in most Americans’ minds, marriage is what it is and always has been,” he said. “The laws of nature and nature’s God are indisputable.”
He said modern culture has caused some to think that perversions are acceptable.
State Rep. Charlie Davis, R-Webb City, said he also favors leaving such decisions to the states, and Missouri has decided the issue with a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. He said he doesn’t foresee that being overturned anytime soon.
“The people of Missouri would have to make that decision,” Davis said, noting that the amendment was approved by an overwhelming margin in 2004. “The hearts of the people would have to change for that to happen. I would much rather have the people of a state decide an issue than a few elitists in Washington.”
Phillip Cosby, state director of the American Family Association of Kansas and Missouri, said he was disappointed in the rulings. He said the high court has moved away from the traditional definition of marriage. He said states will be sued over how they define marriage, and Wednesday’s rulings could serve as precedent.
“It will disassemble the family unit,” he said. “The consequences I think will be devastating.”