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Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Members of Shepherds United, from left, Pastor Otha Aden of Southern Heights Baptist Church, Rev. Jason Freiburger of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese, and Rev. Peter Gregory of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church make a statement Wednesday after the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8.

Local views span joy, concern

Ruling vilified by religious leaders, praised by gays

Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Josh Reid, left, and his partner, Kenny Edholm-Reid, show wedding pictures in their Huntertown home Wednesday after hearing the Supreme Court ruling.

Nikki Fultz, her partner, Kara, and the couple’s four children had a front-row seat Wednesday as media in Washington broke the news that the Defense of Marriage Act had been struck down.

Fultz, director of Fort Wayne Pride, said the family had planned a vacation to D.C. months ago but were thrilled to find out their visit overlapped history being made.

“As the results came out, you could hear people reacting. There was just a wave of excitement as people started to figure out that DOMA had been overturned,” she said, describing the crowd of several hundred people who surrounded her on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.

As many local gay couples celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, several local religious leaders expressed concern about what the decision would mean for American families.

“Though the Supreme Court’s rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 come as no surprise, they are disappointing,” said Otha Aden, pastor at Southern Heights Baptist Church and a member of Shepherds United.

“As Christian ministers, we believe that God himself instituted marriage – long before our nation began – as the lifelong union of one man and one woman,” Aden said.

For that reason, he said, Christians must declare that marriage is the union of a man and woman, regardless of what courts or legislatures say.

“Defending the truth is more important than personal popularity,” Aden said.

‘One more step’

Nikki and Kara were married six years ago in the nation’s capital.

“It’s not just about a license, a piece of paper. There are so many things that come along with it,” she said before Wednesday’s ruling.

“When you tell somebody you’re in a partnership, there might be confusion about what that really means. But when I say I’m married, they understand what that is – that I’m in it for the long haul.”

Fultz is also a member of the Northeast Indiana LGBTQ Coalition, a facilitator for the Gay Straight Alliance through the Center for Nonviolence and an educator with the IPFW Safe Zone.

By Wednesday afternoon, Fultz said the decision was still a bit of a shock, but both she and Kara were happy.

“It’s just one more step toward equality. We’re on our way, but there’s still a ways to go until our states and our country fully recognizes gay marriage,” she said.

Paula Ashe, who is an English instructor at Ivy Tech Community College, said last week that she and her partner, Kim Myers, had considered moving out of state if the Supreme Court decided to uphold DOMA.

The couple were married in Massachusetts and visit the state each summer.

“The experience of going to Massachusetts and having our union recognized is such a relief,” Ashe said. “When we are there, there’s a burden that’s lifted that we didn’t realize was really there.”

Huntertown residents Kenny Edholm-Reid and his partner, Josh Reid, have been married for five years. They were married in Toronto.

They met while students at Carroll High School and have been dating for eight years.

Edholm-Reid, who works for Frontier Communications, said he watched for news on his work computer Wednesday.

“I was so shocked and proud and finally felt validated, if that makes any sense,” he said.

“It was just an amazing feeling.”

‘We all struggle’

Rev. Jason Freiburger, vice chancellor of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Catholic Diocese, said marriage is a fundamental building block of society and one that plays the important role of binding parents to children.

“Men and women are equal, but not interchangeable,” he said. “Indeed, only from the coming together of one man and one woman are children created and it is in this relationship that a child is given the best opportunity to grow and thrive.”

Rev. Peter Gregory, associate pastor at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, echoed Freiburger’s comments about the benefits children receive from having both a mother and father.

“Every child benefits from the nurturing of a mother and the leadership of a father,” he said. “While having one mother is a blessing, having two mothers or two fathers is confusing for the child and detrimental to his or her well-being.”

As a father of three children, Gregory said he looks at the question in a different light.

“Another way to put it is this, which of us, my wife or I, is it that my children do not need? Their mother? Or their father? We both have unique things that we bring to our children,” he said.

Gregory said that in the days to come he expects to have many conversations with members of his congregation about the Supreme Court’s decision, as well as Bible studies and teachings to help clear up any confusion about the ruling.

Gregory said although he knows of men and women who struggle with same-sex attraction in his congregation, none are actively homosexual.

“We do preach that homosexuality is a sin,” he said. “We all have sin, we all struggle with sin, but we seek to avoid it.”

jcrothers@jg.net

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