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Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Aja Michael, left, and Michele Keller react after getting married Wednesday by Allen Superior Court Magistrate Samuel Keirns.

Same-sex ruling irks area religious leaders

The Rev. Peter Gregory of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne said he’s not surprised by Wednesday’s court ruling that overturns Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriages.

“It’s a disappointment, but not a surprise the judge ruled in this way,” Gregory said. “The disappointment is that he failed to recognize what marriage is – a union between one man and one woman – and the unique social good that marriage between a man and a woman is.”

While the courts may be sending the nation in a headlong rush toward gay marriage, Gregory said they will not be the final arbiters.

“Ultimately, I believe history will be the judge of this social experiment we’re engaged in in the United States,” he said.

Pastor Wendell Brane of Trinity Evangelical Church said the ruling makes marriage meaningless.

“First, it is disturbing that one zealous, activist judge can overrule not only the will of the people, but thousands of years of cultural precedent and religious teachings. In a stroke of a pen, he has redefined the sacred institution of marriage,” Brane wrote in an email. “Second, his ruling will certainly contribute to the continued devaluation of marriage. There are now no legitimate arguments to prohibit the legalizing of polygamy or incest.

“Eventually, marriage itself will mean nothing.”

Brane said the ruling – unlike the marriage ban – is itself unconstitutional.

“As we have seen in other states, religious liberty will be severely threatened: Florists, bakers, caterers, photographers, and others will be forced to provide services to ceremonies they find morally objectionable,” Brane wrote. “I can only pray that our attorney general’s efforts to appeal this ruling will succeed.”

The Indiana Catholic Conference of Bishops said the Catholic Church accepts and loves people with same-sex attraction as brothers and sisters.

“At the same time, the church upholds the dignity and sanctity of marriage as a natural union established by God between one man and one woman, intended towards the establishment of a family in which children are born, raised, and nurtured,” the group said in a written statement signed by six bishops, including Kevin Rhoades of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese.

“This is not simply a matter of belief. It is at the very heart of the nature of marriage. Thus, it is not within the power of any institution, religious or secular, to redefine marriage since it is God who is its author.”

But a prominent Indiana Catholic endorsed federal Judge Richard Young’s decree that Indiana has violated the U.S. Constitution’s equal-protection clause.

“All Hoosiers should feel welcome in their own state,” Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., said in a statement. “A big part of feeling welcome is having the freedom to get married and build a family.

“Today’s ruling provides all Hoosiers with equal opportunity to enjoy this freedom and makes Indiana a more inclusive state.”

The office of Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., said Coats will support state government efforts to appeal Young’s ruling.

Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, did not make a public statement on the judge’s decision. Stutzman has said he believes marriage is “the union of one man and one woman.”