Friday, June 26, 2015

In the News: Argus Leader

South Dakotans on gay marriage ruling: Joy, disappointment

Watch a noon Friday celebration in downtown Sioux Falls by residents who agree with the decision by the Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage across the United States.

State must begin licensing same-sex marriages, attorney general says

South Dakotans are reacting today to the Supreme Court's legalization of same-sex marriage across the United States. It was a closely divided ruling that will stand as a milestone in its 226-year history.
The justices ruled that states cannot deny gay men and lesbians the same marriage rights enjoyed for thousands of years by opposite-sex couples.
Pennington County issues same-sex license
Sioux Falls residents:
Linda Barker: "I think it's a long time coming... We are ecstatic."
Mary Dejong: "I am thrilled and a little surprised. There have been a lot of defeats in the past but now we are really grateful."
Suzie Frioli: "We are glad that South Dakota is progressively moving forward. A lot of people are excited. We are."
Judy Struck: "It will be a very controversial issue that will probably have some states fighting it."
John Wilka, lawyer: "I'm glad. Hatred and bigotry will not go away. It's a process." - Sara Bertsch
Sen. John Thune was among those who disagreed with the court's decision.
"The court has issued its opinion, but on this particular issue, I do not agree with its conclusion," Thune said. "I support traditional marriage." - Jonathan Ellis
Rep. Kristi Noem: Brittany Comins, Rep. Kristi Noem's spokeswoman, said the congresswoman also disagreed with the ruling.
"Rep. Noem believes marriage is a special bond between a man and a woman," Comins said. - Jonathan Ellis
Sen. Mike Rounds, a longtime supporter of marriage between a man and woman, also opposed the ruling.
"Today's ruling is a blow to state's rights," Rounds said. "I believe states have a constitutional role in setting their own policy on marriage. Marriage is between a man and a woman, and traditional families play an important role in the fabric of our society." - Jonathan Ellis
State Rep. Steve Hickey, a Republican from Sioux Falls, said he's not surprised by Friday's decision and likened the ruling to Roe v. Wade.
"We saw yesterday the lengths this court will go to justify bad policy. Today's ruling is no surprise. What can be said has already been said. My encouragement to people of faith is to buckle up. Today is as significant or more than the day Roe v. Wade was decided. That ruling gave us 55 million dead children. Time will tell what this ruling brings." - Joe Sneve
Attorney general: South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley says the state must begin licensing same-sex marriages. Jackley issued a statement saying that he disagrees with the ruling, but that the state must now recognize same-sex marriages and begin to issue licenses to same-sex couples.
"It has always been my position that the citizens of our state should define marriage, and not the federal government," Jackley said in a written statement. "Five members of the U.S. Supreme Court have now determined neither the States nor our citizens have the right or the ability to define marriage. Because we are a nation of laws the state will be required to follow the court's order that every state must recognize and license same-sex marriage."
The statement came at 10:30 a.m. No same-sex couples in Minnehaha County had applied for marriages licenses by that time, according to Minnehaha County Register of Deeds Julie Risty, who said she was waiting on direction from the state Department of Health and Attorney General. - John Hult
Bishop David Zellmer, South Dakota Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, in a statement to pastors: Who to marry is a decision most congregations leave to the pastor. Your congregation may choose to do this in the current circumstance as well, but there should be a clear understanding between pastor and congregation council whether the pastor will preside at weddings for same-gender couples. In our ELCA, pastors are not free agents; they are called by congregations (and in some cases by the Synod Council or the Churchwide organization). We do not understand ministers of Word and Sacrament to act on their own authority, but in accordance with the agreements and policies of the ELCA and under the call of their congregation. Still, honoring their "bound consciences" pastors cannot and will not be required to preside at the marriage of any couple, other-gendered or same-gendered.
Bishop Paul Swain of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls: The 5-4 decision of the United States Supreme Court redefining marriage is not a surprise but still a sad development.
I fully support the statement made by the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville, and its characterization of the Court's decision as harmful to the common good.
I also fully concur in his call to be people of faith, hope and love. Faith in the unchanging truth of marriage as God intended; hope that this truth will once again prevail in our society; and love of all our neighbors even those who disagree or punish us for our faith and moral convictions.
Sioux Falls residents, attorney John Wilka and Minnehaha County Register of Deeds Julie Risty comment on the Supreme Court on Friday legalizing same-sex marriage across the United States.
Dale Bartscher, the executive director of the Family Heritage Alliance in Rapid City, blasted the ruling, saying it was the most "egregious rejection" of traditional morals since the court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade.
"The Supreme Court launched an unprecedented attack on religious liberty and traditional marriage," Bartscher said.
Bartscher described the ruling as a "watershed moment in American history," and he predicted that his organization and others that support marriage between a man and a woman would find ways to challenge gay marriage.
"We are evaluating a 103-page ruling from the Supreme Court," he said. - Jonathan Ellis
Bishop Bruce Ough, Dakotas-Minnesota Conference, United Methodist Church: The ruling will win praise from some United Methodists and trouble others, Ough said in a statement. On one thing many United Methodists agree: The decision likely will add urgency to a longtime denominational debate on the church's position on homosexuality. Church law bans clergy from conducting same-gender marriages and forbids churches from hosting such ceremonies.
"While The United Methodist Church does not engage in partisan politics, we welcome all people and believe all have sacred worth, " Ough said. "Today's legal decisions by the Supreme Court will undoubtedly increase the call for change from a sizeable segment of our church membership and clergy that finds our official policy unjust."
SDSU student: Graciela De Reza, vice president of the Gay Straight Alliance at South Dakota State University, was in San Francisco when the Supreme Court ruling came through Friday morning.
"It's an amazing kind of celebration going on," De Reza said. "It's just overwhelming to know that equality and justice has won over for the United States."
De Reza said she hopes this decision will bring more visibility to the college's Gay Straight Alliance group and that its members will feel more accepted by the community.
"This has proven that love has no boundaries, and that there's a positive movement going on and positive change going on in the United States," De Reza said. - Megan Raposa
Rep. Karen Soli, a Sioux Falls Democrat and a retired Lutheran clergy, welcomed Friday's ruling, a reaction she might not have had years ago.
"I believe it's time," she said. "In my own journey through the years, early in my life I wouldn't have felt that way but I've grown to understand that homosexuality is not something most people have a choice about. It's our job in society to accommodate them in ways that make it possible for these folks to be part of our society. It's time."
Although retired and no longer officiating wedding ceremonies, Soli said she'd be willing to conduct same sex marriages if she was still actively serving a congregation. - Joe Sneve
Transgender pastor: Sioux Falls native the Rev. Megan Rohrer, the first transgender pastor ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, sent out a tweet within minutes of hearing the Supreme Court ruling. In it, she recognized that not everyone would rejoice at the news.
"#Remember, we celebrate while others weep. Justice comes in pieces. We yearn for more and our hearts are also with those who mourn," she wrote.
"What is victory for one group means the other group feels it lost something," she said later in a phone interview. I try to feel sensitive to the needs on the other sides of the issue, to celebrate justice but also to feel really respectful of those who are experiencing great needs in their life." - Jill Callison
Sioux Falls couple: A Sioux Falls man says he got a second marriage proposal from his partner following the news that same-sex marriage is now legal in the U.S. Bob Weldland, 27, says his partner texted him at work, asking if he would "marry me again." Weldland says he learned of the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion from his partner and that it still feels very surreal. He says the move is a "step in the right direction" but says same-sex couples still have an uphill fight.
Weldland and his partner consider themselves married under God. They plan to get married by "government standards" this summer. They were united in a Minnesota ceremony in 2010 before gay marriage was legal in that state. - Associated Press
Married gay couple: "It's no longer gay marriage, it is now just marriage across the United States," said Mark Church.
He answered the phone Friday with a note of elation in his voice. He and his husband, Greg Kniffen, were one of six same-sex couples to challenge South Dakota's ban last May.
Today, they described their initial reaction to the Supreme Court's ruling as, "overjoyed."
"We feel vindicated that we were on the right side of this argument all along," Kniffen said.
The Sioux Falls couple looks forward to having their marriage recognized in their home state.
"Your everyday life now is just like everybody else's," Church said. "There is not a next step. We finally have legal recognition for marriage. We have the acceptance that my partner is just as important as your husband or someone's wife. We are the exact same, no matter what." - Megan Raposa
ACLU: Heather Smith, the executive director of the ACLU of South Dakota, said the justices affirmed what 60 percent of Americans believe: That freedom to marry is a fundamental right for all.
"Today's historic Supreme Court ruling means same-sex couples will soon have the freedom to marry and equal respect for their marriages across America," she said. "This ruling will bring joy to families, and final nationwide victory to the decades-long Freedom to Marry movement."
The ACLU planned to hold a celebration at noon outside Meso, 220 S. Phillips Ave. in Sioux Falls, where it would hand out wedding cake. - Jonathan Ellis
Gov. Daugaard: Gov. Dennis Daugaard's reaction was lukewarm. The governor said he would work with Attorney General Marty Jackley to evaluate what the ruling means for state and local governments.
"I would have preferred for this change to come through the democratic process, rather than the courts," Daugaard said. "We are a nation of laws, and the state will follow the law." - Jonathan Ellis
Sen. Brock Greenfield, a Republican from Clark who's endorsed several measures to preserve traditional marriage in South Dakota, called Friday's decision "judicial activism at its worst."
"They've taken upon themselves redefining something that's at the very fabric of our nation and our society. It's a concern because marriage historically has been a religious institution, a sacred institution," he said. - Joe Sneve
Lucky's bar at 224 S Phillips Ave. will host a "Marriage Equality Celebration" at 5:30 p.m.

In the News: Argus Leader

 Reposted from the Argus Leader

Jill Callison, 11:18 a.m. CDT June 26, 2015

Within minutes of hearing that the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states, a Lutheran pastor sent out a tweet sympathizing with those who would be dismayed by the announcement.

", we celebrate while others weep. Justice comes in pieces. We yearn for more and our hearts are also with those who mourn," wrote the Rev. Megan Rohrer.

What makes her remarkable is that Rohrer might have been expected to do nothing but celebrate. After all, she is the first transgender pastor ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and stuck with her childhood denomination even when it was against church rules to be ordained. She was raised Lutheran in South Dakota, where she graduated from Lincoln High School and Augustana College.
In August 2009, however, the ELCA agreed to allow congregations to call pastor in "publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous same-gender relationships." Rohrer was officially ordained in 2010. In 2014 her wife and she traveled to Hawaii and were married.

As a pastor, her first response to the Supreme Court ruling was excitement "because weddings are fun to do," said Rohrer, who returned to South Dakota last weekend to officiate at a cousin's wedding. "I was particularly excited for friends in South Dakota who have long been waiting to be married."

Then she thought of the November day in 2008 when the United States elected Barack Obama as its first black president. That same day, California voters banned same-sex marriage. There was cheering in the streets for Obama's victory and tears of sadness for those who lost the chance to marry.

Rohrer also thought about the funerals that are taking place in Charleston, S.C., where nine black people were killed by a single gunman who has expressed racist views.

"A large part of our community is deeply mourning racial injustice at the same time Pride (events) is happening," Rohrer said. "What is victory for one group means the other group feels it lost something."
Her attitude, Rohrer said, is shaped by growing up in South Dakota, living in a small community where your best friend might hold polar-opposite political or social justice issues.

Rohrer said she happily will return to South Dakota to perform same-sex unions, although people who don't want to wait could travel to states where it is legal, including Iowa and California. She doubts that South Dakota will be able to perform such weddings for some time.

"In San Francisco they had pre-ordered marriage licenses that say 'spouse and spouse' not 'husband and wife,' " she said. "I imagine South Dakota probably didn't pre-order them."

Rohrer also expects legislation to be proposed that will attempt to chip away at the Supreme Court ruling and other roadblocks before same-sex weddings can start in South Dakota.

"We've seen it happen in other states that already passed it," she said. "I think you'll get there. It might take longer."

***Update: South Dakota has revised its marriage-license software making the wording gender neutral. Pennington County has issued a marriage license to two women.