By MIKE VINSON
Most are aware that on Friday, June 26, 2015, the U.S Supreme Court voted to legalize same-sex marriage across the United States. "The justices ruled 5-4 that states cannot deny gay men and lesbians the marriage rights enjoyed for thousands of years by opposite-sex couples" (reference: "USA Today," June 27, 2015 edition).
Expectedly, there was tremendous dissent among the nine justices in reaching a conclusion. Wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy: "Same-sex couples seek in marriage the same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples, and it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right."
Chief Justice John Roberts countered with: "Today, five lawyers have ordered every state to change their definition of marriage. Just who do we think we are?"
Regardless your political leaning or sexual orientation, this was a landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, one that promises to alter the "face" of American society figuratively and, possibly, literally. And when I say "literally," I mean: Given the mercurial advances being made in the medical field (technology, surgical procedures, pharmaceuticals, hormone aids and enhancers) who can argue it would be absolutely impossible for a "new definition" of human being to exist sometime in the near future?
While the U.S, Supreme Court was reaching its decision on same-sex marriage, Tennessee remained one of the 14 states that did not recognize same-sex marriage. However, given this ruling Tennessee now must comply and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In fact, the front-page headline of the Sunday/June 28, 2015 edition of the "Southern Standard" (McMinnville/Warren County newspaper) read: "Gay marriage coming to county."
Regarding same-sex marriage in Tennessee, the remarks I've heard from locals have ranged from, "A tremendous breakthrough for humanity," to "We're becoming another Sodom & Gomorrah--it's a wonder the Lord doesn't send down fire and brimstone from Heaven and consume us all!"
Moving right along it is my understanding churches/religious organizations, as of now anyway, are not compelled to perform same-sex marriages. However, it also is my understanding those same churches/religious organizations "can allow" clergy to conduct same-sex marriages if they so choose.
Granted, most gay and lesbian couples desiring to marry will opt for a "wedding officiant"--pastor, priest, rabbi, judge, Justice of the Peace, County Court Clerk, etc.--who has no qualms about conducting same-sex marriage, and, too, those couples will choose for a marriage site a place that is receptive, not hostile, to same-sex marriage.
However, readers, beware! Remember we dwell in the very buckle of the Bible-Belt, and this would be the perfect testing ground for yet more latitude and longitude in same-sex marriage. I have a "prophecy" that goes something like this:
A handsome, male couple in their early 30s goes to an old-school Southern Baptist minister, in his 60s, and the couple, holding hands, inform the minister they want him to marry them. The minister flat-out says "no!"
The male couple goes elsewhere in Tennessee and gets married. After marrying, the newlyweds start attending the very Southern Baptist church where the aforementioned pastor officiates. When the male couple enter church on Sundays, the congregation goes stone-faced galvanized! The couple even brings nice covered dishes for the church socials. No one will sit with them.
Okay," says the couple, "we're going to TV news station and tell them we're the victims of discrimination." The TV news station investigates, and the Baptist minister stands his ground, explaining to the investigative team his reasons for refusing to marry the male couple, and why his congregation is uncomfortable with them attending church services.
Inevitably, politics will enter into the foray. The same-sex issue is discussed in legislative sessions, and, eventually, a bill passes that legally compels any minister of any faith to perform a same-sex marriage. It ultimately becomes so controversial there is a showdown putting to test "separation of church and state."
I certainly am not wishing for a scenario as described above, but given the world in which we live, such certainly is within the realm of possibility.
Again, it's just a "prophecy." Only time will tell if it comes to past.