Gay Marriage Fight Finds Unlikely Home In Chipley, Rural Panhandle

December 31, 2014

Stephen Schlairet and Ozzie Russ have almost as much in common with their neighbors in the tiny Panhandle community of Chipley as the way of life that sets them apart.

They raise horses and dogs. They live on a 20-acre spread on the outskirts of town. They lend a hand for the annual back-to-school fundraiser. They help out with the United Way. They wear cowboy hats.

Schlairet and Russ are also an interracial couple. They’re gay. And they’re at the center of a heated legal battle over same-sex marriage, banned by Florida voters who put a prohibition into the state constitution six years ago.

The court fight has put Washington County, with a population of about 24,000 and with almost twice as many miles of dirt roads as paved streets, at the forefront of what some — including Schlairet and Russ — consider the most pressing civil-rights issue in the country today.

Sitting side-by-side in their spacious home, Schlairet and Russ are a typical couple in many ways. They finish each other’s sentences, and reminisce over a photo album of their commitment ceremony nearly 15 years ago, a lavish affair on a yacht in Fort Lauderdale where both men wore white tuxedos.

They moved to Chipley, home to about 2,000 residents, a decade ago after Schlairet, now retired, got a job as an administrator at a local hospital.

Their presence in what they called a “sheltered” community over the years may have helped to open hearts and minds in one of the state’s most conservative, Christian regions, if not to gay marriage, then perhaps to tolerance of a different kind of love than most of their neighbors had ever encountered before they met Schlairet and Russ.

“A lot of people have not stepped outside of this box that they live in. We’re bringing something new to them and something that’s not what they see on TV or what people tell them about who we are. I think what changed their minds about us was actually having us in their presence to see us, and hear us, and be around us. …We’ve kind of opened their eyes,” Russ said.

Schlairet, 66, and Russ, 48, said they became plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging Florida’s same-sex marriage ban not only so they could be legally wed, but to help pave the way for millions of others as well.
“It isn’t just that, though. It is the validation of our relationship. It is the validation that our feelings are just as important as yours. Isn’t it Shylock in Shakespeare who says when you prick me, do I not bleed? What was he talking about? He wanted to be considered equal to other people. That’s what this is. This is a civil rights issue for us,” Schlairet, wearing a leather cowboy hat and a Harley-Davidson belt buckle, said during an interview this week at their home.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle in August ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional and ordered the Washington County clerk of court to issue a marriage license to Schlairet and Russ. But Hinkle at the same time put a hold on his ruling pending appeals in other cases. Hinkle’s ruling prompted Attorney General Pam Bondi to file a series of appeals, including a request to the U.S. Supreme Court to extend the stay. The high court refused, and the stay is set to expire at the end of the day Monday, meaning that Schlairet and Russ can obtain their marriage license next week.

Washington County clerk of court Lora Bell last week filed an emergency motion with Hinkle saying she would comply with the order to allow Schlairet and Russ to wed but asking for clarification about whether she would have to issue marriage licenses to other same-sex couples.

Lawyers representing gay couples in the lawsuit argue that Hinkle’s ruling applies to all 67 counties.

Schlairet and Russ, meanwhile, say they likely won’t get married on Jan. 6 because they want time to plan a wedding, although they will obtain a marriage license, which they would have 60 days to use.

For all the attention the federal lawsuit is getting elsewhere in the state and even around the country, Washington County residents seemed almost indifferent about the case, even though the majority of those questioned Monday objected to the idea of gay marriage, almost exclusively for religious reasons.

The rural Panhandle county is peppered with hay fields interspersed with oak trees dripping Spanish moss. Churches nuzzle up to horse pastures adjacent to mobile homes or sprawling ranch homes, all in various states of repair.

A few miles down the road from Schlairet and Russ’ home, the pastor of an Assembly of God church at first refused to speak with a visitor who is not a Christian, before trying to convert her.

Outside a Wal-Mart on a drizzly, gray afternoon, most shoppers approached by The News Service of Florida who were willing to talk shared the same opinion as Larry Brese, an 80-year-old Baptist who lives in Chipley.

“It goes against the Bible,” Brese said. But when asked if the issue was dividing the community, Brese said, “I haven’t heard anybody talking about it.”

Marvin Peterson, 87, agreed.

“I don’t think the good Lord wanted them to be that way. To me, that’s not love,” Peterson said.

Viki Macys said she moved to nearby Sunny Hills three years ago from Chicago to care for her ailing father.

“It’s better to love somebody than to hate somebody,” Macys said, but added, “I don’t really believe in gayness. I just don’t. I think it’s against God.”

Beverly Harris said she was not opposed to the idea of same-sex couples getting married.

“It’s their life,” Harris said. “If they want to live like that, that’s their business. As long as they don’t make a big thing out of it in public. Who’s to judge?”

But she said that most of her neighbors did not share her view.

“I’m very open about things. I wish they were more open,” Harris said.

Despite their misgivings about gay marriage and homosexuality, the people interviewed appeared almost nonchalant about the controversy brewing in their midst.

“Judge not, lest ye be judged,” one elderly man who refused to give his name said. “Especially in a free country.”

Main Street in the historic downtown area emanates a shabby charm found in similar small towns throughout North Florida. A post office, a florist shop and a restaurant or two are squeezed in among a growing number of vacant storefronts.

Pamela Harris, the owner of “Everything Must Go” on Main Street, said she was unaware of the gay marriage lawsuit until Sunday, when she heard about it at church.

“A lot of people are upset about it,” Harris said. “I’m not upset about the fact that they want to do that. I’m upset that they’re ignorant of the word of God. It’s just an abomination to God.”

Schlairet and Russ insist they have not suffered any retribution because of the lawsuit but instead have been surprised by the support they have received, especially from parents whose children are gay or lesbian and from gay veterans.

“This is where we live. We hope to shape this community for the better in whatever little part we can do. We’re not activists. We’re not. We’re just ordinary people that saw that something that was wrong. We had an opportunity to fix it. So we said OK, put our name on it,” Schlairet said.

The couple never envisioned getting married until they were asked to join the lawsuit earlier this year, Russ said.

“We thought we were going to have the commitment ceremony, be together, live and die. It feels good to have this effect, that we’re able to make a change,” Russ said.

For Schlairet, the lawsuit is a chance to shape history.

“A lot of people during the civil-rights era had the opportunity to stand up and say something and they didn’t. This for us was an opportunity. I didn’t want to have to, when I get to the end, have to say I had a chance once in my life when I could have made a difference but I copped out. That was important to me,” he said.

by Dara Kam, The News Service of Florida

Pictured top: Ozzie Russ and Stephen Schlairet feed one of the horses on their Washington County farm near Chipley. Photo by Tom Urban. Additional photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge..

Comments

50 Responses to “Gay Marriage Fight Finds Unlikely Home In Chipley, Rural Panhandle”

  1. john on January 5th, 2015 11:32 am

    John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that (whosoever) believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.

    Romans 3:10 As it is written, there is (none) righteous, no, not one.

    Romans 3:23 For (all) have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

    Romans 5:12 Wherefore as by one man sin entered the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.

    Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the (gift) of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love to us, that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

    Romans 10:9 If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and (believe) with thine heart that God had raised him from the dead thou shalt be saved.

    This can apply to all it doesn’t matter what you have done, weather your gay, strait, bisexual, black, white, yellow it simply doesn’t matter after this.

  2. Betty on January 3rd, 2015 10:10 am

    Not my place to judge. They are adults and live in a free country and can make their own choices. They are good kind responsible people who support their community and I would love having them for neighbors and friends. I look at a persons character and not who you sleep with.

  3. chris in Molino on January 2nd, 2015 8:30 pm

    Thumbs up Jesse and Klondike Kid. Mr. Wiggins, for one it affects me because its everywhere i look. If i were with my kids at the Mall and seen a man and woman kissing a little too hot n heavy, i’d say something then also. Its about common sense. Where i live, you did not see interracial relationships, period. I didn’t know anyone of another race as a kid. I live in the same town and in just 25 years, you’d never know it used to be that way. But i care not if a couple of sodomites want to condemn themselves, just don’t advertise it. I live where i live to keep my children safe. This crap is coming inside my home, so yea, i got a gripe, (By the way, i havent set foot in the mall in 20 years and never will because the people that go there are the ones im staying away from)

  4. Lifendason on January 2nd, 2015 10:27 am

    @Rex: Praying that God will guild you to a church where the bible is taught and preached, because you seem to be mislead. I encourage you to read the bible or re-read the bible and allow it to read you.

  5. jesse on January 2nd, 2015 10:02 am

    I agree that limits should be set, Whats next?, child molesters being welcomed because they love a little kid?? If these two want to live together than none of us have a right to try and prohibit it, but marriage is a sacred union created by God. God has made it clear that he does not approve of same sex relationships and therefore he has not created them. Furthermore This offends me. in an age of political correctness, no one is permitted to offend anyone else. So since it offends me and many others, ban gay marriage. We are a Christian nation that was founded on Christian ideals. I see nothing beautiful about their story, it nauseates me.

  6. Doug on January 2nd, 2015 9:17 am

    So, in a few years, the next story will be identical but will feature a man and his 16 year old daughter. Will that too be OK?

  7. Dennis HE Wiggins on January 1st, 2015 11:22 pm

    I believe that homosexuality is not approved by Heavenly Father. I also believe that it is not man’s place to judge another human being. While we have the right to disagree with someone because of what (s)he believes and/or practices, that is as far as we ought to go. Share the Lord’s words with them and let the matter be settled between them and God.

    As long as another’s rights or beliefs do not impede or infringe upon my rights, then where is the harm in that? Each person is accountable to God for his or her actions only – not for any other person’s. I am not saying you have to associate with people who practice same-sex marriage; you certainly do not. But let them live their lives away from you. Jesus said that we are not to judge others because the standards we use when judging others will be used against us. “Why do you worry about the speck of sawdust in your neighbor’s eye when you have a 2×4 sticking out of yours?” Unless one is perfect, he ought not be worried about the affairs of another.

    And that brings me to the business of marriage. Marriage was – and ought to be – strictly a religious matter. God designed marriage, not man. The government just found a way to take a purely religious institution and turn a dollar with it. I think the government ought to stay out of the entire matter. If two men want to get married, fine – if they can find a God-ordained minister who will do it, go for it. My guess is, they won’t find one. In the end, Heavenly father decides which marriages are recognized and which aren’t. He will also judge us according to our works.

  8. molino jim on January 1st, 2015 8:59 pm

    @ niknak50- share the name of the countries or cultures and someone will try to give you an answer.

  9. blackdog7 on January 1st, 2015 2:33 pm

    Government shouldn’t be involved in ‘marriage’ anyway, but since it is involved, marriage rights absolutely must be extended to all adults regardless of sexual orientation, race, religion, etc. The constitution is quite clear on the subject of religion and government, and there is no reasonable argument against same-sex marriage outside of the religious argument.

  10. blackdog7 on January 1st, 2015 2:31 pm

    ‘Tell you what, let’s leave religion, Christianity, and the bible out of this debate and someone just answer this one question.
    Why is it an historical fact that every culture or nation in time past, that openly embraced not only homosexuality, but all manner of sexual promiscuity, is gone from the face of the earth. All of them…..gone, why? Tell me please.’

    First: ‘Time past’ is a very vague statement. History changes. Second: ’sexual promiscuity’ is perhaps the most commonly embraced thing in all of history.

    Many nations and cultures are openly embracing homosexuality, including the United States. Years from now people will look back and wonder why it took us so long to move past homophobia.

  11. bigbill1961 on January 1st, 2015 1:26 pm

    This whole argument is absolutely moot. God WILL have the final say, whether you believe it or not. Please turn to God now. If you wait until you are facing Him at the Judgement, it will be too late.This is not according to me, it is according to God.

  12. James Broel on January 1st, 2015 12:00 pm

    @ Niknak50 I’ll try to understand but first what are you trying to say since your question isn’t based on religion?

  13. Carolyn Walston on January 1st, 2015 10:44 am

    Molino Jim in Leviticus 12:2, the word says that she would customarily be unclean for seven days and on the eigth day the male child was circumsized because blood is able to clot by that point and time and the mother continues to be going through purification making it 40 days for a male child. Leviticus 12:4 tells of the additional 33 days. In Leviticus 12:5 tells of the purification period being twice that for a female child, 14 days of her customary impurity and an additional 66 days after those customary impurity days making it a total of 80 days for a female child. I love the word of “GOD” and I love to study it also. I’m not trying to be arrogant or sarcastic, I only wanted to share all of this about the purification periods between the sexes of the child. Leviticus 11:9 “GOD” also says that they were allowed to eat anything with fins and scales whether in the sea or the rivers, they’re were other animals that were considered clean they were allowed to eat also.

  14. Klondike Kid on January 1st, 2015 9:55 am

    I don’t care what anyone else does as long as it doesn’t effect me or mine. Whatever anyone else does is between them & their god – which may not necessarily be the same as mine. However, I do resent , as my grandma used to say, having my nose rubbed into something constantly by the media outlets. There have always been gays & lesbians, but their numbers are small compared to the rest of the population. The media would have you think the LGBT population is HUGE, therefore they should occupy great space on tv programs, news articles, etc. and it’s just not true. It’s a ploy to normalize an “alternative” lifestyle that a lot of people disagree with. Bottom line – do what you have to but don’t expect everyone else to condone or subsidize what you do.

  15. Niknak50 on January 1st, 2015 6:34 am

    Tell you what, let’s leave religion, Christianity, and the bible out of this debate and someone just answer this one question.
    Why is it an historical fact that every culture or nation in time past, that openly embraced not only homosexuality, but all manner of sexual promiscuity, is gone from the face of the earth. All of them…..gone, why? Tell me please.

  16. BamaBoy on January 1st, 2015 6:11 am

    Here is the bottom line….Unless the Holy Spirit illuminates the Bible for you it will not make any sense. I consider myself a Calvinists who believes unless the Lord does it then it will not be revealed. So Christian quit arguing with somebody who does not have the Holy Spirit illumination that you have. In addition, those who do not have illumination the Bible will never make sense to you. That is all.

  17. chris in Molino on January 1st, 2015 2:08 am

    Civil rights issue huh? Really? Tell you what, our forefathers unfortunately couldn’t forsee how the constitution would be perverted or just ignored altogether. Just look up what the community as a WHOLE would have done to these “lovers” in Jamestown, not to mention what you could imagine had they tried to marry. History is a beast. Slavery, women not being able to vote, homosexuals hung, interracial marriage forbidden. I have no doubt in my children’s generation, child molestation will one day be argued as a civil rights issue and be permitted. Man has the right to pursue happiness right? Think thats absurd, dont laugh, if you look at our societal transformation in just 25 years, it’s not far fetched.
    I am a christian, but need no bible to tell me you “lovers” are wrong. Its the spirit in me. Im a son of Adam, you “lovers” and supporters thereof are seeds of Cain.

  18. Zmom on January 1st, 2015 2:00 am

    I believe that if you love somebody then it is so. I don’t care what the bible says.

  19. Belle on December 31st, 2014 11:45 pm

    I’m still trying to figure out how gay marriage affects heterosexuals. But I’m guessing those of you who use religion to validate your hatred, didn’t graduate high school let alone attend college. You’ve created a small, narrow world for yourself. Pick up a book and educate yourselves.

  20. Humanist Mason on December 31st, 2014 11:41 pm

    I classify myself as a secular humanist, I used to be a Christian UNTIL I read the bible and saw all of the contradictions, murder, slavery, and hate. I too used to cherry pick and use the bible to spread my own hate against homosexuals. I love everyone (even Christians) what I don’t like is the fact that even though Muslims, islamics, budhists, Christians, and atheist all pay the same taxes that make laws, religion makes its way into laws prohibiting the marriage of two individuals because of someone else’s religious doctrine. The separation of church and state is mandatory to keep religious HATE out of my personal non-theistic home.

  21. Mark T on December 31st, 2014 11:36 pm

    66years old and 48years old.. Is he considered a Cougar ?

  22. John on December 31st, 2014 11:30 pm

    The good lord also intended, slavery, marrying any girl you rape, not eating any shellfish, women not speaking amongst men in the church, not wearing mixed fabrics, not shaving your beard, not cutting your hair, and beating your children. So tell me again why you only cherry-picked the bible verse against homosexuality? Malachi 3:6 says “I the lord do not change”. So he wants all of these things then, now and forever. Why aren’t they protesting against red lobster?

  23. molino jim on December 31st, 2014 8:23 pm

    For all of the folks who love to talk about Leviticus you may want to go on line and read “76 things banned in Leviticus” or read all of Leviticus not just picking out parts. A very interesting list. No shrimp or catfish, no church for 30 days after the birth of a male child/ 60 days after a female child. NO a lot of things.

  24. Lester on December 31st, 2014 8:16 pm

    Us Christians need to stick together and stand up for what is right. I am glad to say we do not raise those kind of people in my family.

  25. Pastor Tim on December 31st, 2014 8:12 pm

    This is disgusting. People need to wake up and realize they will repent for their sins. I for one am tired of seeing this plastered on the news. How about more news articles about the troops who are the real heroes. The good Lord intended for marriage to be between a man and a woman. How will people answer for these sins when our Lord returns home and only brings a handful back to heaven. The rapture cannot happen soon enough.

  26. dgh on December 31st, 2014 7:36 pm

    I’m shocked and glad to see many who have moved beyond our ingrained stereotypes and bigotries and begin to understand humans are not ‘black and white’ but have many variations. As to the Bible I think it is important to remember the OT writers had one thing in mind when discussing men, women and sex, which was they were to procreate for they needed little soldiers to try to defend the land they were inhabiting. The notion the Bible is one man and one woman in a committed loving relationship doesn’t hold up; just look at Duet. 22: 28-29 to see how there are instances both troubling and in conflict with our preconceptions.

    But this is all beside the point as to public policy for in the wise arrangement of our founding fathers our government is secular so as to A) allow for ultimate freedom of belief for the people, not a majority rules system, and B) avoid letting dogma and doctrine interfere with public policy that is to work for all citizens. We overstep the boundaries when we allow any one religion to begin to make public policy and it is what Adams, Jefferson and Paine warned against for the Inquisition, with its horrors of torture for males as young as 10 and females as young as 9, was recent enough event to make it part of the debate.

  27. Sam on December 31st, 2014 6:48 pm

    I don’t care if either or both these people marry each other or a goat. I would rather not read or hear about it. I disagree with them but thats my opinion.

  28. Just sayin on December 31st, 2014 6:43 pm

    bk-it’s not really judging people are telling others because that’s what we’re supposed to do if not we’re not doing our job to spread Gods words. jeeperman- you really should read the BIBLE. cw- it doesn’t matter if you think you’re not religious, you belong to God anyway because after all you’re here on earth, & it’s also you that have turned yourself away from him & you can’t say you didn’t know because people have told you & others & it’s gonna make it harder on yourself because you still turned your back on him. pj Sheffield- The pastor is wrong for not talking to the sinner the first time & not telling them they were wrong but it’s also his rights just like it’s my rights & responsibility as a Christian & a parent that if I don’t want to raise my kids to accept that lifestyle or not to raise my kids around drugs, etc., that’s also ok & God will not judge me for keeping them away from that, I have to love people but I do not have to associate with them. Jerry- it will affect the morals read certain verses. Rex- some people like you only want to. April- the rest ok us also have opinions but the reality is, if you knew what you thought you knew, you wouldn’t sound near as stupid to all others who like this story- well personally I think they have no business having any dealings w/ anything related to kids, forget being bi racial but gay too? I’ve always said if God intended us to mix, he wouldn’t have put an ocean between us.

  29. Henry Coe on December 31st, 2014 5:52 pm

    When it comes to Constitutional Rights, Freedoms and Liberties, what anyone’s religious beliefs are, do not matter and should not matter in regard to state laws.

    It’s very simple. For Florida to have laws that discriminate based on a gender of any kind, is unconstitutional.
    We either have equal rights for the residents of Florida and support the Freedom and Liberty of every citizen or we don’t.
    If people want to have Laws that protect their individual Freedoms and Liberties to their choice of having what ever religious beliefs they want to live by, you have to support and defend the same for everyone else especially if you disagree with other peoples choices.
    You don’t have to like how they live, but you need to protect their right to live how they choose in order to protect your own Rights, Freedoms and Liberties.

  30. Sage 2 on December 31st, 2014 5:46 pm

    …and there folks, you have both sides of the coin displayed in the manner that will comfort and offend.
    When an idea or concept is presented enough times and approval is accepted of that concept or idea/lifestyle is portrayed as OK, fine, good or whatever…folks just start to accept it.

    Think of Sling Blade…”it ain’t right or natural for two men to lay down together” or in the case of women…the same holds true…regardless of the warm and fuzzy statements entered herein.
    Sage advice!

  31. Karen on December 31st, 2014 4:37 pm

    @Aprilp, honey your ignorance is showing NO where in the bible is beating your wife suggested or allowed, we Christians are not perfect we are just forgiven. It’s true that the bible was written by man but they wrote what God told them to write and they did not add to or take away one word that God told them to write. God is the same yesterday, today and forever he does not change. God said it, I believe it and to me that’s all I need to know, it’s an abomination so says God.

  32. Alabama1 on December 31st, 2014 2:41 pm

    The Bible says it’s wrong…arrogant judges and politicians can’t make it right….The Bible says be fruitful and multiply….they can’t-they can only recruit.

    Sodom and Gomarraha, numerous NT passages, the decadent history of the Greeks and the Romans who ultimately collapsed due to their immorality. Yeah, it affects all of our lives when the laws of a nation are rooted in sin….problem is not hypricrsy….it’s preachers and churches more concerned with their dinner on the grounds instead of speaking out against sin.

    God made the person, God didn’t make the sin…God loves the sinner but not the sin…we all sin and that doesn’t mean that we have to turn a blind eye to sin in our society because of our own sin…whether we sin or someone else sins it’s still a sin…

    We are living in Godless and trying times…when the last days are upon us it would be interesting to see how many of these atheist and “non religious types” types who beg God to save them.

    The gay proponents want to blur the lines of morality…don’t be fooled people.

  33. bk on December 31st, 2014 1:43 pm

    all these people quoting the bible and judging other people, you need to look at yourselves and realize you are not perfect and have no place to condemn these people

  34. jeeperman on December 31st, 2014 1:23 pm

    Yes, your God only wants a person to marry another person of the opposite sex.
    Your God then also wants to perpetuate homosexuality because you do not get homosexual offspring from two homosexuals that are 100% committed to each other. If your God does not approve of them, why does your God prefer more to be born into the world?

  35. whatGodsaid on December 31st, 2014 12:27 pm

    Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: …For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

  36. CW on December 31st, 2014 12:27 pm

    “So it all comes down to, are you going to listen to God or yourself?”

    Well, since I’m not religious, I’m going to listen to myself. Sorry if you don’t like it.

  37. DJSheffield on December 31st, 2014 12:12 pm

    “The pastor of an Assembly of God church at first refused to speak with a visitor who is not a Christian” this right here is what’s wrong with our churches today. To many Pastor’s are double standard to what the Holy Bible says. Refuses to talk to someone because they are not Christian. The Bibles says we are to love all people as Christ did.

    Regardless, if I like the ruling or not, does not mean I am going to judge that person. If that is who they are I am still going to love them. It’s NOT my place, nor a Pastor’s place to judge or condemn a person. They will have their judgment day with Christ soon enough.

  38. Jerry on December 31st, 2014 11:37 am

    How does gay marriage affect any of your lives?

  39. Rex on December 31st, 2014 11:35 am

    For those you are using the bible to justify your disagreement ( bobs brother, lifendason, frank and southerner)with gay marriage or gay relationships you need to realize that your bible is full of hypocrisy. You are the same people who probably think the earth is flat and only a few thousand years old. Here is a bible verse (one of many that would show you are a sinner) Leviticus 19:19 open your bible up and read because I doubt the ones who use the bible as justification for gay marriage being wrong have read it. This is why the world cannot progress because of narrow minded people you use the bible as justification for anything. Let me ask you a question if you were born in Pakistan would you be a Christian? What’s wrong with equality for all?

  40. Rural Geek on December 31st, 2014 11:25 am

    I can understand if an atheist says I don’t care what religion says I’m gay. But when you say “God bless” the gays which god are you talking about? The Bible says homosexuality is an abomination so you aren’t talking about the God of Jews and Christians. Islam condemns homosexuality. I don’t know the Hindu position.

    It’s not judgmental to point out what the Bible says. If a murderer says murder is wrong, is he incorrect just because he is guilty?

    These guys may be very nice but the idea is still unfathomable to me. Homophobic, no. Never met anyone afraid of gay people. Homo-nauseous, yes.

  41. melodies4us on December 31st, 2014 11:16 am

    Mighty is the country whose God is their leader.

  42. Mr. Benny on December 31st, 2014 11:09 am

    lynne, Don’t you worry your little liberal mind one bit. These men (as well as myself) will stand before the almighty God. AND they will hear the same thing Hitler, Tojo, et al heard………………I NEVER KNEW YOU, DEPART…………..

  43. Aprilp on December 31st, 2014 10:52 am

    I’m so very proud of this couple for pursuing something that all US citizen should be able to do.
    To the people who were quoting the Bible I’m guessing you’ve never done any wrong and you’ve never cut your hair and you don’t wear blended clothing. And you beat your wife because the Bible says you can. Anyone who uses a book written by man which the Bible was written by man no matter who they say they got the information from it was still written by man. And man is not infallible. As their undying belief instead of just a guide on how to act like a decent human being your opinions to me will never matter because you cannot think for yourself.
    Of course you don’t have to like me, and you don’t have to care that I think you’re ignorant. Because that is my opinion and it is for me alone.

  44. SouthernGirl on December 31st, 2014 10:31 am

    This is a beautiful story, so glad to read it on here.
    Nothing is more important than love, and the right to be happy.
    Best of luck to them!

  45. Bob's Brother on December 31st, 2014 10:00 am

    What next? Will someone declare their love for their dog or horse and elect to marry it? These people can “marry” to their hearts content, but in the eyes of the Lord, the only real marriages are between men and women.

  46. lynne on December 31st, 2014 9:54 am

    God bless these two brave and wonderful men for having the courage to stand up for their rights. Love is love. Let them be free to express it and make a stand in front of man AND God to commit to each other.

  47. Lifendason on December 31st, 2014 8:37 am

    You know, I’m sure these men are probably the nicest people you can meet, but God’s word forbids this type of relationship(Romans 1) and God calls it an abomination(Lev. 18:22).

    So it all comes down to, are you going to listen to God or yourself?

    I pray that these men would listen to God because he loves them, but hates their sin.

  48. Frank on December 31st, 2014 8:35 am

    Does this mean I am going to get to Marry 5 or 6 wives? A society has to have limits and Laws_ the augment that I have the right to be happy??? My Children were not happy when I refuse to allow them to play with fire. This is playing with fire. And lawlessness will prevail…

  49. SOUTHERNER on December 31st, 2014 8:31 am

    That kind of relationship is unnatural, ungodly, and unbiblical.

  50. RTR on December 31st, 2014 7:23 am

    Thank you North Escambia for a beautiful story. And a big thank you to Stephen and Ozzie. Congratulations!





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