Church Sues North Carolina Over Marriage Equality

Usually when you read a headline like this you find an article about a church, synod, diocese or parish supporting a ban on marriage equality (aka same sex marriage or gay marriage) because it goes against God and nature and they support their position on out of context tracts from the Bible (well if they bother to support it at all).

But in North Carolina, the United Church of Christ is using the First Amendment to the Constitution to oppose North Carolina’s prohibition on marriage equality. The law makes it illegal for ministers to perform religious marriage ceremonies if there is no marriage license…and of course there won’t be a marriage license in the case of same sex couples. Yet the United Church of Christ feels they should provide all of their parishioners with the opportunity for a marriage sanctified by their church.

Sometimes you never notice that a law is unconstitutional for a wholly different reason that equal rights or civil rights…those who wrote and passed this law overreached in more ways than they could have imagined!

Here’s a telling excerpt from CBS News:

A coalition of clergy members filed a novel federal lawsuit Monday against North Carolina’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, saying it violates their religious freedom.

The clergy members said that they’d like to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies in their congregations, but that they can’t because of the “unjust law.” Their attorney, Jake Sussman, says it’s the only case to bring the First Amendment religious freedom claims among the more than 60 marriage equality cases pending in the nation’s state and federal courts.

“North Carolina’s marriage laws are a direct affront to freedom of religion,” said the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, executive minister with the Cleveland-based United Church of Christ, which is a plaintiff in the lawsuit. “We feel that it is important that any person that comes into community life of a United Church of Christ congregation be afforded equal pastoral care and equal opportunity to religious services that clergy provide.”

But in North Carolina, clergy are often faced with a troubling decision: “whether to provide those services or break the law,” he said. “That’s something no clergy member should be faced with.”

And from the Charlotte Observer:

“North Carolina judges some of its citizens as unfit for the blessings of God. We reject that notion,” said the Rev. Nancy Allison, pastor of Holy Covenant United Church of Christ and one of the plaintiffs in the case.

State law says it is a misdemeanor crime for ministers to perform a marriage ceremony without having a marriage license for a couple.

“By denying same-sex couples the right to marry and prohibiting religious denominations even from performing marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples, the State of North Carolina stigmatizes same-sex couples, as well as the religious institutions and clergy that believe in equal rights,” the suit says.

In God We Trust!


Related Articles

2 thoughts on “Church Sues North Carolina Over Marriage Equality

  1. Thank you, Ed, for bringing this to wider attention. What a breath of fresh air – and it goes to show that some clergy and religious ‘walk the walk’ of the best notions of Christian practice.

  2. There are a number of Christian Denominations that actually practice the teachings of Christ and are working FOR marriage equality. I have long wondered when those churches were going to stand up and articulate how THEIR religious freedoms were being trodden on by discriminatory laws and their so-called Christian defenders. I was very lucky I grew up in an fantastic community of faith in Madison WI that proclaims loudly and proudly that God loves everyone. My husband and I look forward to the day when we can come back to WI and have a service of reaffirmation of our wedding vows at that Church, where I was baptized, and confirmed. By we won’t even consider doing that until the law there changes.

    PS – love the blog. You would surprised to know we have a few friends in common.

Comments are closed.