North Texans split over Obama's same-sex marriage announcement

North Texans were sharply divided Wednesday over President Barack Obama's declaration that same-sex couples should be able to marry, voicing strong opinions for and against the announcement.

"There simply is not a defensible reason for opposing formal approval to a legal union between two people who love each other," Tarrant County Democratic Party Chairman Steve Maxwell said. "Each of us must ultimately seek the position on the issue with which we are most comfortable. ... In the end, I hope that giving legal sanction to the intensely personal preferences of two individuals who seek the purest form of commitment to each other is what will carry the day."

Local Republicans disagreed.

"This is not what we believe. Personally, I appreciated North Carolina voters going in the opposite direction with their vote," Tarrant County Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Hall said, referring to that state's approval Tuesday of a constitutional amendment about marriage. "I think [Obama] is probably not on the page of where most Americans are."

Political action?

State and conservative leaders who oppose same-sex marriage in Texas said Obama's statement may have just been a political move.

"Election-year politics will never change Gov. Perry's unwavering commitment to the sanctity of marriage, defined as a union between one man and one woman," said Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry, who championed Texas' constitutional amendment banning same-sex civil unions and marriages in 2005.

"He is proud of North Carolina voters who elected to enshrine that definition in their constitution, joining Texas and an increasing number of states in the ongoing effort to defend marriage," she said. "Once again, it's clear that President Obama's political ideology doesn't line up with the will of the voters."

'Gutsy move'

If it was a political move for Obama to take a position on this controversial issue, then Jon Nelson cheered it on.

"I think it's a pretty gutsy move," said Nelson, founder of Fairness Fort Worth, a nonprofit created to address equality issues after authorities' 2009 inspection of the Rainbow Lounge, a gay bar.

Nelson, an attorney, said that there is no legal basis for prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying and that all of the opposition is based on religious beliefs. He remains confident that gay marriage will be legal in 10 to 20 years.

"I think the ultimate decision on this issue is going to be made by the courts and what the Supreme Court of the United States is going to have decide is, do they want to be known as the Dred Scott court?" said Nelson, referring to the court's 1857 decision that Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery. "Or do they want to be known as the Court that legalizes something that is inevitable? There is an inevitability to this issue."

A spokesman for Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said she wasn't going to weigh in on the issue.

"Mayor Price remains focused on the business of the city, and she believes marriage is an issue for the states," said Jason Lamers, chief of staff for Price and the City Council.

In October, Price served as grand marshal of the "Ride the Rainbow" Pride Parade in downtown Fort Worth.

Ed Young, pastor of Fellowship Church in Grapevine, said Scripture "states categorically" that marriage should be between one man and one woman.

"To bless that union and to say what our president has said is something that the Bible would disagree with and I would disagree with. I believe we need to build bridges and draw lines in the sand. We just don't want to confuse acceptance with approval," Young said in a telephone interview. "We accept everybody -- I don't care what you are involved in. But that does not mean we approve of everyone's behavior."

Other opinions

Here's what some other local leaders and residents had to say:

"I will remain consistent in my support for marriage as determined by Texas law and the Defense of Marriage Act while the president is free to change his mind as he determines politically." U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville

"An amazing day. I am proud of my President. I know what it's like to fear losing some votes in making a bold statement and doing 'the right thing.' I want to thank President Obama for his courage and integrity." Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns, who is gay and has spoken out on bullying issues.

"I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. But I'm not going to judge other people's decisions or their motives. This always happens in elections. We get off track. We had better keep our mind on the economy and our national security." U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth

"This is encouraging. Clearly the president ... has taken a more proactive stance than past presidential campaigns have done. That's a direct response to the extremity of Republicans on that issue." David Reed, president of the nonpartisan Tarrant County Lesbian-Gay Alliance, voicing his personal opinions on the issue

"This is a sad, sad day and a very bad decision by our beloved president. ... Today's announcement is a moral earthquake." The Rev. Dwight McKissic, senior pastor, Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington

Staff writers Jessamy Brown and Chris Vaughn contributed to this report.

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