Could same-sex marriage head South?

COLUMBUS, GA (WXTX) – Ten years ago Reverend Emily Bel and Yvonne McGiboney dedicated their lives to one another in what they call a holy union but the two women have never legally been able to marry.

"I would be on cloud nine for that to happen: to know that it was actually legally recognized," says Rev. Bel.

Bel has been the pastor at Forgiving Heart International Community Church in Columbus since 1998 helping to make it a home to same-sex as well as heterosexual couples.

Bel says New York legalizing gay marriage is a triumph for all same-sex couples.  Even though some gay rights advocates say this will lead to other states following example, Bel does not see it coming to the South any time soon.

Some critics of the law say marriage is defined by God as only between woman and man, and many states, Georgia and Alabama included, have taken measures to ban gay marriage.

Bel says the laws her position for the law is a different one.

"Well, I'm not asking churches and ministers to bless the unions if they don't want to.  That is the separation of church and state.  It is strictly a religious matter and they should have that right, but the state, the government should not get in our business.  Anybody's business."

And, most of the people we spoke with agree.

Everyone has a choice.  I thought this was the land of the free.  Everybody should have a choice of doing what they want to do, and I thought gay marriage and anything like that was a choice," says Matthew Westbrook.

Monica Andrews says, "I'm not really one to judge whether it should happen or whether it shouldn't happen.  If you love somebody, then you should be with them."

Bel says this is more than just being able to marry someone she loves but she says it is about having the same rights as married couples.

"We bought at house together and the house is basically in my name.  But, if I die, that house should be hers, but what would happen right now it would revert to my brother," says Bel.

Bel says she will continue to pray for gay marriage to head South.

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