THE first gay couple to marry in a church in Sunderland have expressed their delight at Barack Obama’s support for gay marriage.
The US President took what many believe to be a big gamble in an election year when he said same-sex couples should be allowed to wed.
Some US states have legislated against allowing such marriages.
But Jeffrey Rodgers, who married Paul Langley in a landmark service at St George’s Church in Stockton Road in January, is very happy to have the support of the most powerful politician in the world.
“When I heard the news I was so delighted,” he said.
“Obviously I think it is a really good idea, I’m all for it.
“It’s about moving things forward into the 21st century.”
President Obama become the first US leader in history to endorse the politically explosive idea.
“I have hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought that civil unions would be sufficient,” he said in an interview with ABC at the White House.
“I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people the word ‘marriage’ was something that invokes very powerful traditions, religious beliefs and so forth.”
But he said that “it is important for me personally to go ahead and affirm that same-sex couples should be able to get married”.
Jeffrey, from Roker, said he was aware of a lot of positive feedback following the announcement, just as he and Paul experienced after the Echo reported on their special day earlier this year.
There was a hint of regret as Jeffrey admitted he wished the announcement could have allowed them to sign the register in a church.
He said: “Our day was wonderful, we couldn’t have wished for more. But I sometimes think it would have been perfect just to be able to sign that register.”
Now the pair hope America can encourage other nations to show greater tolerance towards homosexual rights, including the UK.
“I think America is way ahead of a lot of countries and they can lead the way,” said Jeffrey.
“What they’re doing might make our Government and the Church change things here because us and America have that link.”