Community Speaks Out on Same-Sex Marriage - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Community Speaks Out on Same-Sex Marriage

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The nation's highest court will hear two cases this week that could lead to landmark decisions regarding same sex marriage. Communities all over are showing their support for or against the issue.

Here in Panama City, members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community are speaking out.

The men and women showing support say the issue comes down to wanting the same rights as heterosexuals under the law.

"It's important to know that I will have the same rights and the same benefits that everyone else in the country can enjoy because of their marriages," says Rebecca Montez, one of the event organizers.

This week the Supreme Court of the United State will hear two cases on same sex marriage. On Tuesday, a case fighting California's Proposition 8, which bans same sex marriage in the state. On Wednesday, the Court will hear a case fighting the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law defining marriage between a man and a woman.

Locally, residents like Bob McNeal will be paying close attention to the decisions. "My partner and I will be together for 30 years next month. I think that it's very important that everyone understand that all we're looking for is the same thing as everyone else, that we can call each other a spouse verse a partner or lover," says McNeal.

In front of the Federal Court House in Bay County, community members want to spread their message of equal rights and love.

"Just to have the same rights and equality of anybody else," says Rick Martin, McNeals partner of 30 years. "Like legality type things. Hospital rights and visits. You've got to pull teeth to get all of that arranged before hand, before you're actually in the hospital."

With hope that the Supreme Court will rule in support of same sex marriage that could lead to a landmark decision, the LGBT community is dreaming of change.

"I hope that one day it will not even be an issue. Women will say this is my wife, and no one will blink twice because it wont be as controversial as it is now," says Montez.

While several showed up at Tuesday's vigil in support of same-sex marriage, other's like Pastor Craig Connor of First Baptist Church of Panama City feel it's the responsibility of the Church to stand up in opposition. 

"I think if this decision carries through, it will pretty much turn marriage the way that we know it upside down," says Pastor Connor. "I think that the real problem is that this goes far beyond just an attack on marriage. It's been a long standing belief since our country was founded that marriage is an institution between a man and a woman, and I think that now the Court is stepping into the private lives of citizens where really it has no business," says Pastor Connor. 

The Supreme Court will likely make a ruling on each case in June.