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Local pastors react to court ruling

The Supreme Court's ruling that legalized gay marriage across the United States was met with both positive and negative reactions from the churches across the country and Lawton.

John Helgeson, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, said the church expected a decision like this.

"We expected it and we believe we should respect the decision of the court, even those we disagree with," Helgeson said. "We haven't had any same-sex couples apply for marriage through the church yet and if a couple applies in the future then they will have to go through the process of counseling and through the system like other couples do."

Mike Tompkins, director of the Comanche-Cotton Baptist Association, said he believes the 54 churches affiliated with the association do not favor the decision, but the association and the churches do respect the decision of the Supreme Court.

"We do not believe the Bible teaches that,' Tompkins said. "We doubt that any church affiliated with the association will participate to officiate the same sex marriage."

Tompkins said the ruling goes against what the association believes the Bible teaches about marriage, but this does not mean they are being hateful.

"Our pastors have no intention of being hateful to anyone," Tompkins said. 

Eugene Spillman, interim pastor of First Christian Church, said the church is open to the diverse group of people who attend. 

"We are much more accepting of gay marriage than some other congregations," Spillman said. "We welcome that human rights of all people have been recognized."

Spillman said God loves everyone and doesn't exclude people because of their race, sexual orientation and other factors.

"The ruling is about whether or not a committed relationship is recognized by the laws of federal government," Spillman said. "The benefits that were offered to some people in marriage are now offered to others in that relationship."

Spillman said he encourages any couple to go through counseling process before getting married so that they are prepared to be in the marriage for the rest of their lives.

"The culture is changing so radically and people need to consider what is important before getting into a marriage."

The Rev. Shelley Forrester of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church said she is glad about the court ruling, which gives equal rights to everyone.

"The Episcopal church has been pretty open to ministering to the gay community and we have a gay clergy," Forrester said. "We believe that a gay relationship can reflect the love between God and this church and therefore we can accept the union."

Forrester said a gay couple who wants to be married at the church will have to go through the same procedures and have to fulfill the same requirements as the heterosexual couples. 

The Lawton Constitution

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