Lynchburg Church and Liberty Counsel Speak Out on Same Sex Marriage Hearings

Lynchburg, VA - The Supreme Court spent Tuesday hearing arguments about the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8.

Nationwide, the hearings have spurred discussion over the rights of same sex couples.

And locally, much like the Supreme Court justices, the Lynchburg community is divided.

Two organizations in the Hill City, one a church, another with religious ties, have spoken out on the issue; one vehemently defending traditional marriage, the other, saying gay marriage is a fundamental religious right.

Within the walls of Lynchburg's first Unitarian Church, the leaders of the congregation preach this, "We try to stand up for equal rights, respect for human dignity, and the worth of every person" said the Minister, Reverend Paul Boothby.

A group gathered Tuesday to share their thoughts on same sex marriage.

"Some of the weddings I perform are recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia, and some of the weddings I perform are not recognized" said Boothby.

Boothby says his congregation, with more than 130 members, is diverse.

He has gay couples, straight couples, black couples, and white, and he wants equality in the law for all of them.

"The wave of the future is God's love is for everybody and that we are one family of humanity, and we need to learn how to get along on this planet" he said.

"I think it would be a catastrophic situation in America if we adopted same sex marriage across the country" said Mat Staver, the Chairman of Liberty Counsel.

His organization has argued more than 50 cases nationwide, aiming to up-hold traditional marriage.

Liberty Counsel filed briefs with the Supreme Court urging them to uphold California's proposition eight, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

"It affects children. It affects families. It collides with religious free exercise and ultimately collides with free exercise of our fundamental freedom of speech" said Staver.

He says the question presented to the Supreme Court is one regarding the constitutionality of gay marriage; and for him, an easy answer, "There's no way in the constitution that you could stretch it or interpret it to encompass a right to same sex marriage" he said.

Nation-wide there seems to be a trend favoring same sex marriage. A March ABC poll from found 58% of Americans support its legalization.

Wednesday the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the second issue at hand, the legality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.