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Church sues N.C. for gay marriage
United Church of Christ wants law overturned
Published Monday, April 28, 2014 9:27 am
by Herbert L. White

A church organization is suing North Carolina for the right to marry same-sex couples.

The General Synod of the United Church of Christ filed a lawsuit today in U.S. District Court in Charlotte, contending state law that defines marriage as a union between a man and woman restrict its ministers from performing their religious duties is unconstitutional.

North Carolina prohibits couples of the same gender from obtaining a marriage license and makes it a crime for ministers to officiate a marriage ceremony without determining whether a couple has a license. UCC attorneys say the law limits ministers’ choices, violates the principle of “free exercise of religion” and restricts the freedoms of religion and expressive association guaranteed in the First Amendment. The church seeks a preliminary injunction that would allow ministers the choice of performing a religious marriage.

“The United Church of Christ is proud to defend the religious freedoms upon which this nation was founded,” said the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, general minister and president of the UCC. “It is unfortunate that even today, laws are designed to treat gay and lesbian people unequally. In its efforts to restrict gay marriage, the State of North Carolina has restricted one of the essential freedoms of our ministers and of all Americans.”

North Carolina voters approved Amendment One, which limits a domestic legal union to a covenant between a man and woman, in 2012. Under state laws, ministers who perform a marriage for a couple that doesn’t have a license can be charged under a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 120 days in jail and/or probation and community service. Also, the law allows anyone to sue the minister who performs a marriage ceremony without a license and collect up to $200 if they prevail, which UCC contends applies to a minister performing a religious ceremony not intended to result in a legal marriage.

The UCC General Synod adopted a resolution in 2005 that affirms “equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender and declares that government should not interfere with couples regardless of gender who choose to marry and share fully and equally in the rights, responsibilities and commitment of legally recognized marriage.” 

 “The United Church of Christ believes in advocating for justice,” said,” said the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, a UCC officer and an openly gay man, in a statement. “We believe that the UCC is called to be a prophetic church.  God calls the church to speak truth to power. We are standing up for the freedom of religion, and to protect the rights of our ministers to do their jobs in faith.”



It looks like the UCC adoped the resolution supporting marriage equality nearly a decade ago. Any members would leave because of this lawsuit woudl have already left long ago.
Posted on April 28, 2014
I don't understand why the UCC Synod wants to stir up trouble for the Church itself. Do they want another mass exodus. So, if they win the lawsuit and lose a bunch of members, the UCC could end up being finished. What does that accomplish? Or, is that the goal? I don't think the synod members are thinking clearly.
Posted on April 28, 2014
To say that the UCC General Synod is reflecting the views of the entire UCC denomination 1.1 million members in 5100 churches is like saying that Obama care reflects the views of the entire democratic party. It is just not true.
Posted on April 28, 2014

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