Although a number of areas appear to welcome the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling that marriage is a guaranteed constitutional rite for same-sex couples, not just a man and woman, many in Ludowici and Long County do not agree.
Ludowici Mayor James Fuller said it was a bad ruling and that the Founding Fathers did not intend for the Supreme Court to make decisions on matters such as these.
“In Ludowici, we welcome everyone and make it a point to treat everyone fairly and the same,” Fuller said. “But what the Supreme Court did was wrong. Our country was founded on Christian principles, and it is clear in the Bible that God intended for marriage to be between a man and a woman.”
Long County Commissioners Chairman Dwight Gordon didn’t offer his personal view on the issue but did say that people need to respect the court’s decision.
“The only thing I have to say on that is, no matter what your opinion is on this subject, the Supreme Court has spoken, and they have the ultimate say on laws of the land,” he said. “Having said that, all governmental officials and officers need to abide by their decision.”
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and Attorney General Sam Olens said the high-court ruling is the final decision on the issue and that all state offices are mandated to recognize same-sex marriages in the same manner that they recognize marriages between a man and a woman.
Long County Probate Judge Maria Middleton said that as of Monday, there had been no request for a marriage license from a same-sex couple. She also said her office would comply with the court’s ruling and issue marriage licenses as instructed by the state.
Many Long County pastors expressed concerned about how their church might be affected if they refuse to recognize same-sex marriages based on their belief that the Bible says a marriage can only take place between a man and a woman.
The Rev. Eric Rentz, of Ludowici First Baptist Church, said his church would not recognize same-sex marriages.
“I am deeply moved with a righteous anger about the most recent (Supreme Court) decision and believe it to be the single most tyrannical act in American judicial history,” he said. “Not only is it a clear violation of religious liberties, natural law and basic morality, it has the potential to deconstruct the system of checks and balances that have governed this nation since its inception. … It is a clear act of tyranny and a violation of states’ rights for this definition to be imposed upon the nation as a whole.
“I fully expect Gov. Deal to enact legislation or an executive order to protect religious organizations from legal retaliation in our refusal to violate our beliefs,” Rentz continued. “I really don’t think our church will be tremendously affected, as we intend to remain consistent with our God-defined interpretation of marriage.”
The Rev. Tom Gardner of A New Beginning Church agreed with Rentz, but Gardner expressed more concern about the possibility that churches may be forced by the government to violate their beliefs.
“I do not agree with the court’s decision,” Gardner said. “I believe God’s church as a whole, and A New Beginning Church, will be affected if the government tries to force us to comply with this law, thus violating our religious freedoms.”
But he also expressed hope that this ruling might prompt professed Christians to adhere more closely to the Bible.
“I hope this decision causes the individuals in the church to live a Gospel that is truly life-changing,” Gardner said. “For far too long, we haven’t been the witness that God has called us to be because of many immoral lifestyles in the church now.”