Mason residents talk Michigan’s same-sex marriage case

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By Caitlin Taylor
The Mason Times

For Mason resident Jason Nichols, 24, marriage equality has always been something that he was passionate about. Growing up with two moms, Kim Nichols, 44, and Deb Spencer, 51, Nichols and has been hoping for community acceptance and equal treatment for his parents for 17 years – the time since his mother first came out.

“They just want to be recognized as a real couple,” Nichols said.

This April, the state of Michigan will be rehearing the state’s same-sex marriage case, originally heard in 2004. The case was brought forward by two Hazel Park nurses challenging the gay marriage ban in Michigan. The hearing will determine whether the ban should be considered constitutional or unconstitutional – ultimately deciding the fate of many same sex-couples in Michigan, including the city of Mason.

“I like the idea (of rehearing the case) because I believe that all men and women are created equal,” Nichols said. “I don’t think that anyone should be treated any differently because of their sexual orientation.”

Despite his hopeful view on Michigan’s future ruling, Nichols is skeptical about Mason’s tolerance of same-sex marriages.

“I don’t think there is a strong hatred,” he said. “But I don’t think they’re as accepting as you would hope.”

Living in a small community with a heavy church presence, Nichols feels that religious opposition is a major factor preventing the Mason community from supporting marriage equality.

“As a church, there is no doubt that we feel strongly about all individuals, as god created all,” said Pastor Gerhard Weigelt of the Mason 1st Church of Nazarene. “But we also hold quite true that it is clear in scripture that God created a man and a woman (for each other).”

Religious beliefs aside, Nichols hopes that God is removed from the court’s final decision. Doing so would violate the First Amendment of the constitution, he says, which states that no law should be passed respecting an establishment of religion.

Weigelt, likewise, supports and respects the U.S. judiciary system; but he is morally and religiously torn.

“My prayer would be that we return to our country’s Judeo-Christian roots,” he said.

Both Father Kustitino Cobona of Mason’s St. James Catholic Church and Community and a representative of the First United Methodist Church of Mason expressed that they cannot speak on behalf of their churches on this topic.

In contrast, if Michigan does deem the same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, the state will join 37 states which have previously overturned gay marriage bans.

“It’s just (about) wanting acceptance,” said Nichols’ mother, Kim. “Being seen as equals.”

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