Opinions split across the Peninsula on same-sex marriage decision

akspeed@dailypress.com

NEWPORT NEWS — A day after same-sex couples in Virginia were allowed to marry, Ashley Dixon was in no hurry to get to the courthouse.

"I'm excited, I'm very excited," said Dixon, who has been in a relationship for six years. "One day, me and my girlfriend can get married here. I didn't think this was going to happen … we're not in a rush, but at least now it's an option."

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision Monday not to decide whether couples can get married in Virginia opened the door for same-sex couples across the state to make wedding plans. The high court's refusal to render an opinion allowed for the lower court's ruling to stand, which struck down the state's gay marriage ban.

The swift inaction came as a surprise to many who were waiting on a definitive ruling. The news that all marriages are now legal was welcomed by some, with others saying that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

It's about time

"I eventually think all states will allow it," said 44-year-old Rochelle Hargraves, who was walking along the boardwalk at Buckroe Beach on Tuesday morning. "Who you love is who you love."

Steven Abel, of Hampton, said that religion often dictates people's lives too much. Abel says that everyone has a right to be happy.

"At some point, you just got to let people live," the 67-year-old Abel said. "As long as they are good people, I don't care."

Dixon, who moved from Florida to Virginia in July, said the stress of having to move to states that allow marriage is now gone with the ban being lifted.

Several residents said they were surprised by the Supreme Court's action, which was not to act at all. They said they were waiting for a ruling and that the court should have issued an opinion.

"I wish they would have made a decision," the 29-year-old Dixon said. "But I think it would have been the same decision."

The Bible says

Same-sex marriage became possible in Virginia at 1 p.m. Monday, with couples in Hampton Roads heading to circuit courthouses to apply for marriage licenses. In Newport News, four couples applied for marriage licenses. In Hampton, only one gay couple applied for a marriage license Monday. The historic day fell on their eighth anniversary as a couple. As they waited to fill out paperwork in the clerk's office, a stranger passed by them. Once out of earshot the man said to no one in particular, "I can't believe I'm seeing what I'm seeing."

The sight of a same-sex couple getting the same legal rights as straight couples is not accepted by many who say its goes against their religious beliefs.

"I don't think it's right," said Thomas Robinson, who was sitting at a bus stop on 25th Street in Newport News. "It just doesn't stand with biblical terms."

Robinson, 43, continued by saying he would have never thought this would happen in Virginia. Newport News residents Ralph Boyd and Johnnie Keese echoed Robinson's religious views.

"It defies God's law," Boyd said. "He wouldn't have put a woman here if he intended for man to be with a man."

Speed can be reached by phone at 757-247-4778.

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