COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - With several states moving forward with allowing same-sex marriages following the U.S. Supreme Court's denying to hear arguments from five states, both a pastor and a LGBT group spokesman hopes those changes will happen soon in Georgia.
"I don't know, we can have all 50 states within the next five years with the way this is moving," Emily Bel, the pastor of Forgiving Heart Church, said. "It just amazes me."
On Monday, the Supreme Court denied appeals from five states looking to keep their bans on same sex marriage, and this decision currently increased the number of states where same-sex marriage is legal to 30.
Bel, 63, said she's especially excited about what's happening in South Carolina right on Wednesday. A judge in South Carolina started accepting marriage applications from same-sex couples on Wednesday morning, despite the state's ban on gay marriage.
"Having a southern state means other southern states could follow its footsteps pretty quickly," Bel said. "Many states are going to drag their feet because they are stuck in the Bible belt, but I think it's going to come lot faster than I ever dreamed. I've done some commitment ceremonies for people who chose to go up to New York and other states to get married. So maybe one day, I'll get to perform legal ceremony for some people in Georgia as well."
Andrew Dennis, the support group director for Chattahoochee Valley Pride Center says he hopes to see more southern states start accepting same sex marriages as well.
"Why can't the South? I'm just hoping that the South will be able to realize that this change is happening," Dennis said. "It started with a few states, then 10 states now we are up to about 30 states that allow gay marriage. I know Columbus and other cities in the South still have a long way to go because it's so close to the Bible belt. But I think 50 years from now, the new generation will look back and think this whole thing was absurd. I hope to see gay marriages will be legalized in all states one day."
"I came out in 1972, and I never thought same-sex marriage would be legal anywhere. Yet, here we are," Bel explained. "What we are getting is basic human rights. We want to be declared as same first class citizens with the rest of the nation. Same-sex couples want and need benefits that heterosexual couples receive. Without that benefit, I think we are second class citizens, and trust me, that is not fun. I had to live like that for 30 to 40 years. I hope our younger generation won't have to go through what we went though."