No gay marriages in city

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 8, 2004

With the election a week away, a local resident has posed a question to the two candidates, a question he said he had planned on asking at the candidate forum, but decided to ask through a letter to the editor of The Demopolis Times instead.

“I have not heard anyone else ask this question and since I believe this issue is of grave concern to all the citizens of our city and since oneo f the candidates has stated that sh will not be present at the political forum sponsored by your newspaper, which is where I intended to ask this question, I will pose it in (a) letter,” Tommy R. Carr wrote.

The letter, asking how the candidates stand on the issue of same-sex marriages, was published in Tuesday’s edition of The Demopolis Times.

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Carr stated in his letter that the issue of same-sex marriage is relevant, though many residents have overlooked it in the mayoral race.

“I know that many may think this is a non-issue in a municipal election, however, sine mayors in Alabama can perform weddings and since there are radical homosexual rights groups looking for any and every opportunity to force their agenda on the citizens of America, I think it is not only relevant, but essential that we know where they stand,” he wrote.

Tuesday morning, Times Publisher Jonathan McElvy’s email contained a response from mayoral candidate Mike Grayson.

“I am responding to Rev. Tommy Carr’s letter printed in your Tuesday, September 4, 2004 edition requesting the candidates view of homosexuality and same sex marriages,” Grayson wrote. “The Holy Bible is very specific on this subject, God abhors it; it is wrong. I base my statements and belief on the following chapters: Leviticus 18.22&20.13, First Kings 14.24&Romans 1.24, 26&27. A practical quote could very well come from my friend Brother Doug Null, “God created Adam&Eve, not Adam&Steve”.

Grayson went on to note that he did not know of the mayor’s right to officiate marriages, and agreed that that power could be abused.

“I was not aware of the authority granted by the state to Mayors in their powers of office to perform marriages (of any kind) until Rev. Carr’s question was posed. I agree with his concern in that radical homosexual groups are constantly looking for friendly officials that will allow them to push their agenda. I would truly hate that a Mayor could turn Demopolis into ‘the Mecca’ of Alabama where same sex unions would be allowed. As Mayor of Demopolis, I would not be sympathetic to nor perform any same sex marriage ceremony.”

However, Grayson added, he does not judge or discriminate against others.

“Having said all of the above, I would be remiss if I did not include Matthew 22.39, Jesus’ saying (paraphrasing) ” Love your neighbor as you love yourself”. Having given my sermon of the day, I repeat, I, Mike Grayson, as Mayor of Demopolis, would not perform any same sex marriages.”

Candidate Cecil Williamson said the same in fewer words.

“Under no conditions would I marry two people of the same sex,” she said.

In a phone call later Tuesday afternoon, Williamson followed up on her answer.

“Same-sex marriage is against Alabama law, and a mayor certainly could not do something that the state doesn’t allow,” she said, noting that the law would prevent any mayor from officiating a same-sex marriage.

“Also, you have to buy a marriage license to be married, and the state will not issue a marriage license to same-sex couples,” she said. “So, I couldn’t marry a same-sex couple.”

Both candidates were also asked about their view of the school board, after some residents related information that one candidate had spoken of changing the currently appointed school board to an elected board.

Both candidates also agreed that Demopolis Schools, which were among the top 25 in the state, were fine as they stand and did not need adjustment.

“I think the product speaks for itself,” Grayson said. “They were 22 in the state out of 100 plus school systems, I think that speaks for itself.”

Again, he had a short quip to sum up his thoughts, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

He said the school system, like any other, needs improvement, but nothing major.

“Our schools aren’t perfect, but we do more than make sure they’re just up and running, but strive for excellence,” he said. “If the school system is doing so well, I don’t see where is going to an elected school board would put us closer to that state of perfection.”

Grayson said he would worry that an elected school board would bring politics into an arena where it didn’t belong.

“The priority of the school board should be the faculty and the children. Anything else put on their agenda would be unacceptable.”

Again, Williamson was brief and to the point.

“My attitude about the schools in Demopolis is that they are the shining stars of this community, why would I want to change something that is working?”