Vigil held at New Bern City Hall in support of same-sex marriage

POSTED: 11:37 PM Mar 26 2013   UPDATED: 7:46 PM Mar 27 2013
NEW BERN, CRAVEN COUNTY -

A vigil in support of same-sex marriage was held in New Bern on the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court took on the issue.

Equality North Carolina hosted the candlelight vigil Tuesday night in front of the New Bern City Hall, just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court discussed the constitutionality of Proposition 8, California's ban on same-sex marriage.

The "Light to Justice Vigil" was organized by the Carteret-Craven PFLAG, which stands for Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. More than 50 people showed up to the event.

David Hatch said he came to the event to support his son. Hatch said he and his wife knew their son was gay when he was just 18 months old. Their son is now 22.

"He's good. God made him that way and we support him.  We support him fully,” said Hatch.

Kerwin Schaefer said he came out in 1970. He said it's not just about gay rights, but human rights as well.

"Gay, straight, black, white, any two people who love each other should be able to get privileges and the rights of marriage," Schaefer said.

Tabatha Donelson told NewsChannel 12 she has been with her partner for three years. She said she knew she was a lesbian when she was 12 years old.

"One day, I want to be able to marry my partner. It means the world to me," Donelson said. "I think it's a great thing that more people are starting to come out and take a stand and say, 'hey, I’m not taking it anymore.'"

But not everyone at the event was in support of same-sex marriage. Patrick O'Connell preached the gospel from across the street.

"The message they're sending [Tuesday night] is exactly the wrong message," said O’Connell. "The Bible warns us about doing just this. They are strengthening the hands of evildoers, if they don't turn from their ways or part from their ways."

Jerry Schill is the Chairman of the New Bern Christian Coalition.

He said although the people have the right to let their opinion be known, the Christian Coalition strongly believes marriage should be between one man and one woman.

"It's not that we do not love gay and lesbian people, that's not it at all. It's just that we believe marriage is ordain between a man and a woman," said Schill. "That's the way society has been all along and that's the way we think it needs to remain," he said.

Equality North Carolina leaders said the event was one of more than a dozen vigils across North Carolina. They said 150 vigils took place nationwide.