Pike County residents react to judge’s decision

Published 3:00 am Saturday, February 7, 2015

Pike County Probate Judge Wes Allen’s decision to no longer issue marriage licenses drew quick reactions from the public on Friday.

Several Messenger readers took to Facebook to voice their opinions on the decision. Some supported the decision, but others, like Pam Taylor-Carr, were displeased with the judge’s decision.

“So what happens when other (or all) offices in Alabama decide to stop issuing marriage licenses,” Taylor-Carr asked in her comment. “I am all for sticking to your beliefs but you can’t help who you love. Not to mention how many ‘straight’ couples get married and divorced and married and divorced and so on … More love and less judgment. More and more churches are coming into the current century.”

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And some left simple, kind words for the judge supporting his decision. “Thank you

Amber Hester applauded Allen’s efforts for standing by his beliefs.

“I respect his decision,” Hester said. “People are standing by their belief that homosexuals can marry and he is standing by his religious beliefs. Same thing. He’s not forcing anything on anyone so they shouldn’t force it on him.”

Nicole Copeland, a Pike County resident whose recently sought ordination so she could legally marry same sex couples, told a reporter she disagreed with Allen’s decision. “I respect his convictions, and he does not have to perform marriages,” Copeland said. “(But) by not issuing licenses period, it will cause a loss of revenue in the county as well as aggravation for anyone wanting to get a license who now has to go 20-plus miles to any neighboring county (for the license).”

Moreover, she said, that gives other counties “the revenue we need.”

In addition, local religious leaders shared their reactions with reporters on Friday.

The Rev. Luke Lane said he and his church, First Baptist, stand behind Allen’s decision, resting their faith in The Bible.

“I know that it is obviously a topic that is it is one that God’s word has told us is pretty clear according to how we believe marriage is,” Lane said. “Marriage is to be holy. Marriage is to point us to Jesus. The church is Christ’s bride. For every marriage between a man and woman it’s supposed to be an illustration of that relationship.”

Lane said that as a pastor, he feels the underlying issue in the situation is sin.

“The underlying issue on everything is sin,” Lane said. “We are all sinners. Thankfully through Jesus, he came to save us from our sin. We have to trust in him and place him first in our lives. Salvation only comes through him. We can’t earn it. We can’t work hard enough for it.”

The Rev. Den Irwin, pastor at St. Martin Catholic Church, said he supported Allen’s decision. “People should not be forced to violate their deeply held beliefs, be they religious or otherwise,” Irwin said. “This has been an important principle in the United States for years. For instance, it is my understanding that those who had conscientious objections to fighting in a war were allowed to make some sort of non-combative contribution to the effort so that they would not have to fight. No one should be forced to violate his conscience on an issue such as this.”

Irwin also said the issue of same-sex marriages poses a greater threat to society than simply a changing law. “We are overstepping our bounds. There are certain things we cannot change without dire consequences to society,” he said. “If we think that we can change the definition of marriage for same-sex couples, who is to say that someone else will not come along and make an impassioned argument to be able to marry a second wife? … Once we open this door it will never be closed.”

Irwin went on to say that legalizing same-sex marriages sends the wrong message to children and society. “We are sending a huge signal that this is an acceptable arrangement for the upbringing of children. Marriage has always been about the children in addition to the husband and wife … children have a right to the unique love of their father and their mother.”