A local gay rights advocate hailed the U.S. Supreme Court's twin rulings regarding same-sex marriage as significant victories for justice and gay rights on Wednesday.
The Rev. Scott Hamilton, an associate pastor of Church of the Open Arms UCC, an Oklahoma City church affiliated with the United Church of Christ denomination, said the rulings represented important strides for same-sex couples across the country.
“This is the greatest victory in terms of equality that our country has seen in a very long time,” Hamilton, who also serves as executive director of the Cimarron Alliance, a gay advocacy organization, said Wednesday.
“If we believe that marriage is a cornerstone of our society, then we should celebrate that all the way around,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton said the heart of the matter is that the federal government has denied same-gender couples numerous rights that heterosexual couples have enjoyed for years.
He said momentum to quash Oklahoma's same-sex marriage prohibition will build upon the Supreme Court's rulings because the ban's demise will ultimately mean greater economic opportunities for the state. Hamilton said large corporations searching for cities in which to establish their businesses consistently look for communities where all of their employees feel safe and welcome.
“How long can we be people who just stand still while the rest of the world obviously marches on?” Hamilton said.
Hamilton, who is gay, said he and his partner were married in Connecticut four years ago.
Meanwhile, several state faith community leaders expressed their disappointment in the court decisions and declared that while the nation's highest court may be “the law of the land,” it does not supersede the laws of the Lord when it comes to defining marriage.
Methodist, Southern Baptist and Roman Catholic leaders in Oklahoma said the court's decisions will not dissuade them from defining marriage as between one man and one woman, based on Scripture.
“They may adhere to the laws of the land, but I adhere to the laws of God,” the Rev. Robert Hayes Jr., bishop of the Oklahoma United Methodist Conference and Indian Missionary Conference, said of Supreme Court justices.
“I took an oath and was consecrated that I would uphold the laws of the church. The United Methodist Church defines marriage as an act between a man and a woman.”
The Rev. Anthony Jordan, executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma; the Most. Rev. Paul S. Coakley, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City; and the Most Rev. Edward Slattery, bishop of the Diocese of Tulsa, shared similar sentiments.
“While it is disappointing that the Supreme Court's decision regarding the Defense of Marriage Act fails to protect the institution nationwide, we take heart knowing that no government body can redefine what God Himself created in marriage as one man and one woman,” Jordan said.