Opponents of same-sex marriage flood Leg Hall

By Amy Cherry 5:18pm, April 17, 2013 - Updated 3:38pm, April 18, 2013
Proponents and opponents of same-sex marriage voice their opinions before a House committee.
Opponents of a bill legalizing gay marriage in Delaware are making their voices heard.

Hundreds of opponents of same-sex marriage gathered Thursday at Legislative Hall to urge lawmakers to vote against the bill.

The opposition rally came one day after the measure cleared a House committee in a 4-1 vote, where opponents voiced concern over what they call "a slippery slope."

"It's not a marriage equality bill, it's a marriage destruction bill," says Pastor Charles Pritt of the Lighthouse Baptist Church in Newark.

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Emotional testimony fills a jam-packed House chamber for a committee hearing on same-sex marriage.

Opponents say the bill will have a ripple effect on the religious community and could even one day force clergy to preside over same-sex marriages despite their religious beliefs.

"There's churches in Denmark now that are being forced to perform same-sex marriages," says Jordan Warfel, a minister at the Living Hope Fellowship in Houston

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But Justin Cremer, News Editor of The Copenhagen Post says those claims are false.

"I'm not sure that the folks making that argument in Delaware necessarily have their facts straight because no one is being forced to carry out these ceremonies if they do not wish to. The clergy can opt out," says Cremer.

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Cremer says the law opponents of same-sex marriage keep referencing only affect the state-run Lutheran Church of Denmark and even there, individual ministers and priests may excuse themselves.

Pastor Chris Rue of the World of Life Christian Center in Newark says the measure is in direct violation of the definition of marriage.

"We'll be teaching females that there's no value in becoming a bride because you can be replaced by a man," says Rue.

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Another pastor, Reverend Dr. Howard Greer of Wilmington's Mt. Joy United Methodist Church, stood up and said exactly the opposite.

"My oldest son took his own life. He was a Christian; he was a Methodist, and he was gay. Get on with the real mission of God. This is not an issue of sexual orientation, gay or straight, it is a justice and civil rights issue," says Greer.

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Towards the end of the 90-minute hearing, another man testified if Delaware passes gay marriage, it might as well pass polygamy too.

"I think everyone who's against gay marriage troughs out the slippery slope argument, and you have people taking it to extremes of 'what's next? Are they going to marry animals?' So some of these arguments are hypotheticals that frankly are probably never going to come true and a bit of a waste of time to even discuss," says Cremer.

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Supporters like Roberta Price, a retired Navy nurse commander, who married her partner Colleen in California, is backing the measure for the nation's military members.

"If their spouse is killed, no one will call them on the phone and tell them. No one will show up at their door in uniform to let them know. They will not be permitted to claim the body, and they will receive no benefits like their counter, heterosexual spouses do," says Price.

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She asks how can we expect our active duty homosexual military members to serve in our military when they wear the same uniform and bleed the same red as their heterosexual counterparts, but get none of the benefits.

Equality Delaware adds if the Defense of Marriage Act is overturned by the Supreme Court and gay marriage doesn't pass in Delaware, couples in current civil unions in the state won't be protected under federal law.

The same-sex marriage measure is expected for a full House vote early next week. House Minority Leader Dan Short (R-Seaford) was the only member to vote "no" on the measure.

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