Columbus churches react to the Supreme Court decisions

Published: Jun. 26, 2013 at 10:25 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 1, 2013 at 7:33 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Most people are familiar with the opinions of churches that oppose gay unions, but some churches in the area actually support and welcome gay couples into their congregation. These leaders are expressing their views of the decisions made today, June 26, by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court overturned Defense of Marriage Act, allowing legally married homosexual couples to receive federal benefits in states that honor gay unions.

In addition, the court also invalidated an appeal by proponents of Proposition 8, which will effectively allow gay marriage in California.

Reverend Emily Bel from Forgiving Hearts Community Church in Columbus, Georgia, was thrilled about the Supreme Court's ruling.

"I knew this day would come, but I did not expect to see this in my life time," Reverend Bel exclaimed. "Even about ten years ago, I received death threats, bomb threats and all sorts of hatred messages from people who did not like me for my sexuality. So, this is just exciting to me, my partner and my church members."

Although Reverend Bel supports this ruling, she also explained that this decision is invalid in Georgia.

"Unfortunately, same-sex marriages are still not allowed in Georgia. This decision only works to legally married homosexual couples," Revered Bel explained. "But my partner and I will wait. We will pray and wait, just like we have done for years. We are not going to move to another state that allows same-sex marriage. We are waiting to get married here."

Reverend Emily Bel stated that it might take a while for Georgia, Alabama and other states that ban homosexual marriages to come around.

"It might even need a little push from the government for Georgia and other states to allow same-sex marriage," said Reverend Bel. "But we are not in a hurry. God works in great timing. So I will wait, but in the meantime, we are thrilled for this new change."

Reverend Colley Williams from Refuge Church of Jesus Christ also encourages homosexual, bisexual and people of all sexual orientations to join his church.  He says God is love and wants everyone to follow Christ, regardless of who they love.

"My church also welcomes gay and straight people like Forgiving Hearts Church," Reverend Williams said. "I am very excited for this new decision, but I also think that the Supreme Court's decision is long overdue. We are humans, and everybody has the right to love whoever we choose to love. I support equality for everyone. I never thought I would see this in my life time. But I'm glad this is happening. Of course, I see some people who are upset, but this is a good change."

Patricia Merchant, an interim rector for Saint Thomas Episcopal Church, says she was also excited for this new ruling. Her church members also support this decision, since the church also welcomes gay and lesbian people.

"We are delighted about the decision, because we have been supporting gays and lesbians for a very long time. We follow God who is love, and if Jesus was here, he would be inclusive." Merchant added, "He would not leave some people out because of their homosexuality if he was here on Earth. I am glad that the government is supporting us and the love that Christ wants us to embrace."

Other people who are disappointed about the Supreme Court's new ruling nationwide are stating that the decision goes against the bible. They also claim that traditional marriage consists of a man and a woman. However, Reverend Emily Bel had a different definition for traditional marriage.

"If you really study and look at the Bible, traditional marriage has been defined with many definitions." Revered Bel explained, "For example, David had four wives. It is not right to devalue our love or other couple's love because we are homosexuals. The key to happy marriage, in my opinion, is not marrying someone to satisfy society. If anything, I have seen lot of straight couple's divorce and break up, too. It does not matter if you married a woman or a man- a happy marriage and relationship come from talking to one another and understanding one another."

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