By PAMELA CODY
Special to the PRESS
After last week’s Supreme Court ruling overturning the ban on same sex marriage, there is no longer the need to qualify the word with terms like “same sex” or “gay,” according to the highest court in the land. With the court’s decision still very much a hot-button issue, the Press asked people in and around the Laguna Madre area and of all genders, ages and sexual tendencies to express their opinion on this controversial topic. On South Padre Island, reaction by the LGBT community as well as many in the heterosexual community ranged from elation to accepting.
While some were reluctant to share their views publically, many were happy and willing to express their feelings about this watershed moment. Henry Holland, a gay man, long-time denizen of SPI and area bartender, said. “I have friends that have been together for a long time who got married after the decision was made. (They are) very happy people. (And there will be) more to come!” He further remarked, “I think it was about time we all have equal rights. People who disagree are just ignorant. I’m so glad the Supreme Court finally made a good decision, it’s been a long battle. It’s history in the making,” he declared.
Representing the younger generation, Gabriella Haycock, 16, Rebecka Castaneda, 17, and Leann Lord, 18, Brownsville residents visiting South Padre Island for the 4th of July holiday, were eager to share their feelings. Rebecka exclaimed, “I’m all for it. I was very happy because I have gay friends and I believe in equality.” Her friend Gabriella chimed in, “They’re people, too!” The most outspoken of the trio, Leann, said without hesitation, “I’m for it, I feel that all love is equal. If people are against it, they can go screw themselves!” she stated defiantly.
Also happy to share her opinion was Judith Beat, 73, a resident of South Padre Island for 23 years who performs marriage ceremonies with her company, A Beach Affair, a destination wedding service. “I’m very happy to see it, hopefully it will bring me more business.” On a sad note, she added, “I wish my son, who was gay, would have survived to see it – he passed away in 2000.”
And finally, the most eloquent, funny, and heartfelt comments were offered by Clinton Freeman, a popular and beloved former resident of SPI, now living in Louisville, Kentucky, with his partner, Andrew Bland, who works for the Kentucky Department of Transportation. “I’m still fending off straight friends and acquaintances asking when we’re getting married. It’s fascinating – like they assumed all gay folk were getting married over the weekend. What it means to me is, ‘finally’! Deep in my heart I knew this day would come. Honestly, though, I thought I’d be in my 70’s when it would happen and all eccentrically dressed like Prince…or Mrs. Roper,” he said.
“What this will ultimately mean for us is that I will be treated like any other spouse of a state employee and be entitled to whatever benefits there are and not treated like “Oh, ya’ll are gay. That’s icky. You get nothing, Freeman added.
Freeman went onto add that he was most of all, ‘relieved’ because the court’s decision was a longtime coming. “I recall sitting in History class in 1985 being mocked by another student – making limp wristed hand gestures and such – and thinking to myself how truly (expletive) my life was gonna be and where I was going to have to go off and hide when I got older so I wouldn’t get beat up or killed. (Those are horrible) thoughts for a 15 year old.”
Freeman concluded by saying, “I’m genuinely relieved for the next generation of gays. There’s now gonna be a kid telling his gal pals at lunch he’s gonna marry (insert current manufactured male pop star)…and not give a damn what the others think, because it won’t be an issue any more.”
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