United Church of Christ sues over North Carolina gay marriage ban

Lisa Cloninger and Kathi Smith, a couple who has been together for more than 10 years, with their pastor the Rev. Nancy Allison, speak during a press conference held Monday morning (April 28) at Holy Covenant United Church of Christ in Charlotte, N.C. Photo by Patrick Schneider, courtesy of United Church of Christ

Lisa Cloninger and Kathi Smith, a couple who has been together for more than 10 years, with their pastor the Rev. Nancy Allison, speak during a press conference held Monday morning (April 28) at Holy Covenant United Church of Christ in Charlotte, N.C. Photo by Patrick Schneider, courtesy of United Church of Christ


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DURHAM, N.C. (RNS) The United Church of Christ sued the state of North Carolina on Monday (April 28) over its constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, saying the 2012 amendment violates the religious freedom of its clergy. The liberal denomination of some 1 million members is the first in the country to attack a same-sex marriage ban on religious freedom grounds, taking a cue from religious conservatives who used the same argument over the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act. In 1972, the UCC was the first denomination in the United States to ordain an openly gay pastor, and in 2005 was the first to endorse the fledgling movement to allow civil marriage for same-sex couples. The suit asks the federal courts in the Western District of North Carolina to strike down the ban, which was passed by state voters. It argues that the ban limits clergy choices and violates the principle of “free exercise of religion” by requiring clergy to minister to one segment of the public. A dozen non-UCC clergy and same-sex couples joined the suit. “By preventing our same-sex congregants from forming their own families, the North Carolina ban on same-sex marriage burdens my ability and the ability of my congregation to form a faith community of our choosing consistent with the principles of our faith,” said the Rev. Nancy Petty, pastor of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, who joined the lawsuit.
The Rev. Joe Hoffman, pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Asheville, N.C., said the effect of the state constitutional ban on gay marriage is to deny him the opportunity to perform one function of his job.

The Rev. Joe Hoffman, pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Asheville, N.C., said the effect of the state constitutional ban on gay marriage is to deny him the opportunity to perform one function of his job. Photo courtesy of Amendment Once Challenge


This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

As part of the state ban, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor for a minister to perform a marriage ceremony for a couple that hasn’t obtained a civil marriage license. In addition, the law allows anyone to sue the minister who performs a marriage ceremony without a license. The Rev. Joe Hoffman, pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Asheville, N.C., said the effect of the state constitutional ban on gay marriage is to deny him the opportunity to perform one function of his job. “It takes away the right I have in my religious tradition to do something important in my faith,” he said –”to marry people.”   KRE/AMB END SHIMRON The post United Church of Christ sues over North Carolina gay marriage ban appeared first on Religion News Service.

One Response to “United Church of Christ sues over North Carolina gay marriage ban”

  1. CarrotCakeMan

    When speaking about First Amendment issues in regards to marriage equality, it’s always important to remember it isn’t just a matter of those denominations who LIE that they’d be “forced” to perform same gender marriages. The major Christian, Jewish and other denominations that are marrying same gender couples now are being denied their right to practice their religion freely in 32 US States. These denominations will marry same gender couples in 18 US States and the District of Columbia:

    Affirming Pentecostal Church International
    Alliance of Christian Churches
    Anointed Affirming Independent Ministries
    The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists
    Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
    Community of Christ
    Conservative Judaism
    Ecumenical Catholic Church
    Ecumenical Catholic Communion
    The Episcopal Church
    Evangelical Anglican Church In America
    Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
    Global Alliance of Affirming Apostolic Pentecostals
    Inclusive Orthodox Church
    Metropolitan Community Church
    Old Catholic Church
    Progressive Christian Alliance
    Reconciling Pentecostals International
    Reconstructionist Judaism
    Reform Judaism
    Reformed Anglican Catholic Church
    Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
    Unitarian Universalist Church
    United Church of Christ
    Unity Church

    Hopefully, more denominations will join UCC in suing for their Freedom Of Religion soon.

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