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Lawsuit Filed by Church Against North Carolina’s Ban on Same-Sex Marriage
A lawsuit was filed in a Federal District Court by the United Church of Christ against the state of North Carolina and its ban on same-sex marriage, according to the New York Times.
The lawsuit argues that the ban unconstitutionally restricts the religious freedoms of clergy members from marrying gay and lesbian couples.
“We didn’t bring this lawsuit to make others conform to our beliefs, but to vindicate the right of all faiths to freely exercise their religious practices,” said Donald C. Clark Jr., general counsel of the United Church of Christ.
Clark said that the law in North Carolina allows clergy to bless same-sex married couples who had the ceremony performed in other states, but the law prevents them from performing “religious blessings and marriage rites” for same-sex couples.
The law also says that “if they perform a religious blessing ceremony of a same-sex couple in their church, they are subject to prosecution and civil judgments.”
In the lawsuit, The United Church of Christ is named as a plaintiff along with a rabbi, a Baptist pastor, a Lutheran priest, two Unitarian Universalist ministers and multiple same-sex couples.
They all claim that the state’s law “represents an unlawful government intervention into the internal structure and practices of plaintiffs’ religions.”
The defendant named in the case is North Carolina’s attorney general, Roy Cooper. Cooper has stated that the ban on same-sex marriage should be lifted, but he pledged to defend the laws of the state “when legal arguments exist.”
Evan Wolfson is the founder and president of Freedom to Marry. This is an organization that supports same-sex marriage throughout the country. Wolfson said that this case is just one of 70 in the country that challenge these bans.
“In their zeal to pile on to denying the freedom to marry, North Carolina officials also put in place a measure that assaulted the religious freedom that they profess to support by penalizing and seeking to chill clergy that have different views,” Wolfson said. “The extent to which North Carolina went to deny the freedom to marry wound up additionally discriminating on the basis of religion by restricting speech and the ability of clergy to do their jobs.”
The North Carolina Values Coalition opposes same-sex marriage in the state. The group’s executive director, Tami Fitzgerald, said in a statement that she decries the lawsuit as “the lawsuit of the week filed by those who want to impose same-sex marriage on North Carolina.”
“It’s both ironic and sad that an entire religious denomination and its clergy who purport holding to Christian teachings on marriage would look to the courts to justify their errant beliefs. These individuals are simply revisionists that distort the teaching of Scripture to justify sexual revolution, not marital sanctity.”Lawsuit Filed by Church Against North Carolina's Ban on Same-Sex Marriage by Jim Vassallo