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Marriage ruling ‘a real blessing’ for local couple

Below is a July 2, 2015, article from the Grand Haven Tribune about the ministry of our church.

“It has been a good few days,” said Geibel, of Fruitport. “Coming from Oklahoma, where it was scary to live there, and coming up here and finding a church and now being able to get married — it’s a real blessing.”


The couple, who moved to the area a decade ago, said they intend to get married now that it’s legal.


“We’ve been talking about it since Friday afternoon,” Geibel said. “We don’t have any formal plans, but soon.”


Geibel said her partner didn’t want to talk too much about the idea in the event the Supreme Court ruled against same-sex marriage.


“We knew we could go to Indiana and get married, but I just wanted to get married where I go to church in Michigan,” she said. “(We wanted) to be able to get married in our church in the state we live in.”


Geibel and Pray are members of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven. The church is supportive of same-sex relationships.


“We went to a lot of churches, especially coming from Oklahoma, where we had to be secretive about our relationship,” Geibel said. “It wasn’t until we attended St. John’s that we felt accepted.”


According to its Statement of Beliefs, St. John’s Episcopal believes that “the sacrament of marriage should be open to all people, gay or straight.”


The church’s rector, the Rev. Jared Cramer, said the church also opened up to any same-sex couple looking to get married — and “as an act of penance, and to make it right,” will offer the same marriage benefits offered to church members.


“A lot of the LGBTQ population has gone though a lot of pain and heartache,” Cramer said. “We want to say, ‘We’re sorry the church has done that,’ and we want to make it right.”


The church has put a banner along Washington Avenue that proclaims the new marriage statement, and they’ve also added several flags.


“The day of the decision, I also put a rainbow flag in front of the church,” Cramer said.


So far, Cramer said he hasn’t heard anything negative from members of his parish about the marriage policy or the flags outside the church.


“We’ve had several brand-new visitors to the church,” he said. “I had one person from our church reach out and hug me.”


Ottawa County Clerk Justin Roebuck noted that his office has received marriage license applications from same-sex couples since last Friday’s Supreme Court ruling.


“To date, we've had a total of 18 applications for marriage licenses — including two in the Grand Haven office, one in the Holland office, two at the Fillmore office and 13 online marriage applications,” he said.


About 70 percent of the county’s marriage applications are done online, where the couple fills out the information and pick up the license afterward at the clerk’s office, Roebuck added.


“Things here have been going smoothly since Friday's ruling,” Roebuck said. “Our staff has worked diligently to implement the necessary changes to the marriage forms and serve all of our customers in an efficient manner. Our online form has also been changed to reflect the state's changes to the marriage application, and we've had no bumps in the road processing licenses.”

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