ENC residents react to signing of gay marriage law

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – President Biden signed the bipartisan Respect for Marriage Act at the White House Tuesday.

The law protects the rights of Americans in same-sex and interracial marriages and people across the U.S. are celebrating.

“I’m feeling validated and seen, not like a second-class citizen,” Greenville resident Kirby Terrell says.

Terrell’s husband Dan Rutzen shared that sentiment.

“We want equal protection under the law and so this establishes that for us in no uncertain terms and this will not be taken away from us.”

It’s the respect for marriage in every state that matters most to Rutzen and Terrell.

“It just means that now wherever I go in the United States, that me and my husband will always know that our marriage will be protected. It doesn’t matter what state we’re in, what community guidelines or whatever, it just now means that our marriage is now in law,” Rutzen says.

“It’s the little things,” Terrell adds. “…like if something happens to my husband, I don’t have to worry about fighting for visitation rights.”

While the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Greenville supports the legislation, they know not every religion feels the same.

“There’s a need to feel control and know what’s around you. Our society is changing and that can be very uncomfortable for some people. Church is a place you go to be reassured and to be safe, and that’s very difficult for some people to see that happening in their church,” Feryl Masters, Unitarian Universalist president says.

Though the Respect for Marriage Act is a historic action in protecting the rights of same-sex and interracial marriages, Terrell says the work doesn’t stop there.

“There’s still more to do in our community and making sure that everyone is protected under the law. Listen to other people’s stories. realizing that where my voice matters, there’s so many other voices that need to be heard too,” Terrell says.

Among the 39 Republicans that joined forces with Democrats were Republican Sen. Thom Tillis and Sen. Richard Burr showed their support for the act.

The owner of Club Q, the LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado where five victims were shot and killed, attended the signing, along with the two survivors.