(RNS) In the days before the Supreme Court made it possible for gay couples to marry everywhere in the U.S., we asked two couples of faith — one Jewish who live in a state that forbids gay marriage, and one Christian and opposed to gay marriage — what the decision would mean to them.
Feldman and Abes: Making the world more right
When Amber Feldman and Elisa Abes’ son went in for ear surgery a few years ago, both mothers wanted to be with the infant when the anesthesiologist put him under. But Feldman, who is not his birth parent and has no right to adopt him in Ohio, had to stay behind in the waiting room.
When they were trying to enroll their daughter in their local public school, the couple was told Feldman could be listed as an “emergency contact” on school records, but not as a parent.
And at tax time, Feldman has to check “single” on the forms.
“I don’t want to mark that I’m single — I’m not, Feldman said. “There’s just an invisibility there, a nonrecognition of who we are. We’re a family and you don’t want to explain that all the time.“
There will be much less explaining to do now that the Supreme Court has made gay marriage the law, even in Feldman and Abes’ Ohio and the dozen other states that had prohibited it.
The decision, they said, will mean much to their daughter, who, approaching her seventh birthday, has made it clear that she badly wants this for her mothers.
“She talks about other couples that are married. Her uncle is married, and she went to the wedding of her preschool teacher, and to her that’s love,” said Abes. “Our ability to get married would make the world more right for her.”
Feldman and Abes want to get married themselves. But they didn’t want to make plans before a court made it legal for gay Ohioans because they want to wed in their Cincinnati synagogue. Their congregation wants this to happen within its embrace, and their rabbi has told them he would be very willing to preside at their wedding, they said.
“Our synagogue is home,” said Feldman. “And I would not want to get married somewhere other than home.”
Do you they have any words for the other couple interviewed for this piece, who oppose gay marriage?
“This is a terrifying change” for Christians who believe that their religion prohibits gay marriage. I understand and respect that,” Feldman said.
“All we can say is we’re not out to offend or change the world. We just want our family recognized for what it is.”
The Barthelsons: A cheapening of what God intended
Kyle and Kristy Barthelson want to have children someday. And when that day arrives, they want to raise them in a world where their values matter. Gay marriage is not something they can learn to accept. The Bible, their guide to life, tells them so.
Gay marriage to the Barthelsons is part of a coarsening culture that laps up every detail of Kim Kardashian’s 72-day marriage to Kris Humphries and every TV episode that pits 30 women against each other in a competition for a bachelor.
They witness what they describe as an increasingly impoverished understanding of the institution of marriage. The nation’s growing tolerance for gay marriage, said Kyle Barthelson, follows the proliferation of no-fault divorce laws that made it easier to dissolve marriages and resulted in a “cheapening of what God intended to be highly valued.”
Expanding the definition of marriage to include gay couples, Kristy Barthelson said, “essentially ends marriage as we know it.” It shakes the very foundation of civilization because “marriage is the fundamental building block for the family and society to flourish.”
But beyond gay marriage’s weakening of the nation’s moral fiber, the Barthelsons fear the Supreme Court ruling may cost them their jobs at the nonprofit where they both work.
What they expect in the wake of the ruling is a host of laws and regulations designed to protect gay people but that will impinge on the freedoms of individuals and organizations that want to uphold a traditional definition of marriage.
Will they be forced to hire people who oppose their views? Will nonprofits be removed from tax-exempt status? Will their stance against gay marriage be equated to hate speech?
“As a nation,” Kyle Barthelson said, “I think we care more about sexual freedoms than we care about any other freedoms.”
Do you they have any words for Feldman and Abes, the two women who want to marry?
“Being opposed to gay marriage doesn’t mean we’re opposed to gays,” said Kyle Barthelson. “We don’t have disgust or hate-filled opinions toward them at all.”
On the contrary, he said, they would “welcome a conversation over a cup of joe and be intentional with one another.”
YS/AMB END MARKOE