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A Farmer's 2nd Look At Same-Sex Marriage: High Court Ruling Is 'Great Thing'

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

We have another voice on the line. Edd Goerger is a farmer near the town of Wahpeton, N.D. And my colleague Maggie Penman from MORNING EDITION and I actually met him on a reporting trip some months ago talking to people about same-sex marriage. Edd, welcome back to the program. Thanks for taking the time today.

EDD GOERGER: Thank you, David, glad to be here.

GREENE: Tell me how you reacted when you heard about this ruling this morning.

GOERGER: I guess I wasn't surprised. I had anticipated this kind of ruling. Like you've been stating, the public opinion has changed dramatically in the last, well, 10 years for sure, but especially recently it has become more accepting and - of this whole gay marriage idea. And I think it's a great thing.

GREENE: You think it's a great thing. I just want to remind our listeners the conversation that they heard from - that the two of us had some months ago. I mean, you spoke about that you felt like same-sex couples were entitled to all of the legal benefits as everyone else. But the one thing that you sort of were hung up on was the idea of using the word marriage to apply to same-sex couples. You felt like if there was just another word you might be more comfortable. Can you remind us about that feeling?

GOERGER: (Laughter) yes. Well, I mean, it's the same - it's definitely - it's the same type of situation, but it's different. And I guess there's quite a few of us, at least where I live, that are comfortable with the act and the togetherness and acceptance of it all. It's just that we felt that since it's something that's different than that that there may be another name that could be there. And I also stated at the time though that just as the whole - whole idea of gay marriage has moved at light speed to where it is now in public opinion, that the word marriage may probably do the same thing and we'll just accept it as we go forward. And it'll be just a normal thing in our society. It's just - change takes time and, you know, people need to adjust, I guess.

GREENE: It sounds like you are, in some ways, celebrating this decision. I think you said it's a great day. How do you balance that with the reservations that you had?

GOERGER: Well, I mean, what I look at it as is a great day and celebrating it, as you would say, is the fact that people that have taken the commitment to be with one another in another state can now go to a different state that before did not recognize it and have it recognized. And so that way it's a wonderful thing and it's progress being acceptable to all different types of situations. So, you know (laughter) that being said, that's consistent with what I said before. I mean, we're OK with the act. It's just that we were having to adjust, mentally to, I guess, a certain extent, of what - of the change in - the changing of the meaning of the word. And I guess words are - have a propensity to change nowadays as we're finding out.

GREENE: You live in a state where, you know, same-sex marriage was banned. You know, when I was visiting your community I spoke to many people who had reservations - some of them much more serious reservations than you have. Some people who, you know, told us that they believe homosexuality is a sin and they feel like this is just not something that the - should be allowed, same-sex marriage. You say the change comes - you're ready to adjust and sort of think about the word in a different way. Are you getting that same sense from people in your community? Or are there going to be people who react to this a little more negatively than yourself?

GOERGER: I really couldn't tell you. I mean, I haven't been out in the public, per se. Yeah, there's going to be a combination. There's going to be those that are going to be steadfast and, like, no, that's the way it's always been and that's the way it should be. And then there's going to be folks more like me, like, well, you know, I guess times change and we need to change with them. And then there's, of course, those that have always been looking forward to this and have always been more than accepting of it.

GREENE: President Obama, when he spoke a few minutes ago about this, he nodded to the fact that a lot of people have deeply held beliefs and a wide range of views on this topic. Does that speak to you?

GOERGER: I guess. That statement is broad-based. I guess I don't feel it speaks to me particularly. I think that my views are probably consistent with what I would call the majority now that are for people having rights to do these kind of things - more of a libertarian view of it all. But I guess, like a lot of things in our society, we adjust as times roll on and we learn to live with it and embrace it as times go farther down the road.

GREENE: All right, we've been speaking with Edd Goerger. He is a farmer who lives outside the town of Wahpeton, N.D. Edd, it's great to hear your voice again. Thanks so much for taking the time. We appreciate it.

GOERGER: All right, have a great day.

GREENE: You do the same and I hope to come visit you again sometime. It's one of the many voices we'll be hearing from today as we cover a major decision from the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices decided in 5-4 decision that same-sex marriage is legal across the United States of America. And we'll be having much, much more coverage of this. We have special coverage right now and then All Things Considered will be covering this later in the day. And you can also follow us online at NPR.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.