Locals voice opinions on U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings on same-sex marriage

Published 8:20 pm Thursday, June 27, 2013

By KATIE MCDOWELL/Managing Editor

The U.S. Supreme Court may have ruled Wednesday that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, but local residents do not expect to see major changes to Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriages anytime soon.

In a pair of decisions handed down on Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court eased restrictions for same-sex marriage. In United States v. Windsor, the court ruled in a 5-4 decision that DOMA, which denied federal benefits to homosexual couples, was unconstitutional. The court also dismissed Hollingsworth v. Perry, which challenged Proposition 8, a ban on gay marriage in California.

Freddy Ard, chair of the Shelby County Republican Party, said the decisions seem to give power to define marriage to the states.

“They seem to at least have given some consideration to states’ rights,” he said.

However, he said the decision also hinted at judicial activism, which he said the Republican Party is “always leery of … regardless of what the subject matter may be.”

State Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin, R-Indian Springs, said she was disappointed but unsurprised by the ruling. While State Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, has announced plans to challenge Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage, McClurkin doesn’t expect to see any changes soon.

“A few years ago, we had an amendment that was voted overwhelmingly by the people that marriage was between a man and a woman,” she said. “We’ve plainly spoken. That much is clear.”

Ard also said he can’t see the state making a change to that law at least for one generation, if not more.

For members of Spectrum, the University of Montevallo’s gender/sexuality alliance, the court’s decisions were a cause for celebration.

“It’s about time. It’s really been a celebratory thing,” Spectrum President Lydia Clements said.

Neither Clements nor Ryan Moriarty, Spectrum’s political chair and past president, expect to see quick changes in Alabama, but they said the decisions are important stepping stones toward acceptance.

“We’re on a positive track to getting equal rights for all individuals in the U.S.,” Moriarty said. “You just take your victories, slowly move forward and hope it continues.”

Clements also said the decisions create an opportunity for conversations about same-sex marriage.

“One thing at Spectrum we’re trying to do is become more politically minded,” she said. “You can’t complain about what’s wrong if you’re not willing to take a stand for what’s right.”