A FIRST? Major Christian denomination challenging North Carolina's ban on gay marriage
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
4/29/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
It's the first many have noticed a mainline, Christian denomination standing up for same-sex marriage. The United Church of Christ has joined the national debate on homosexual equivalency in a roundabout way. The church is challenging North Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage, arguing that Amendment One violates the church's constitutional guarantee to freedom of religion.
The Rev. Dr. Bernard Wilson, left, and the Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer address a press conference this morning at the Cleveland headquarters of the United Church of Christ, which filed suit in Charlotte, N.C., challenging the constitutionality of the state's anti-same-sex marriage law.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This is likely the first challenge by a national Christian denomination of a state's gay marriage ban, according to the church's officials.
Amendment One, the church argues, makes it a crime for its clergy to officiate a marriage between two people of the same sex - which they say puts a limit on the church's exercise of religion.
"It is unfortunate that, even today, laws are designed to treat gay and lesbian people unequally," the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, the church's general minister and president says. "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."
The Cleveland-headquartered United Church of Christ filed a lawsuit in federal court in Charlotte today challenging a North Carolina law that prevents gay couples from obtaining a marriage license, and which makes it a crime for ministers to officiate at a same-sex marriage ceremony.
Proponents of North Carolina's ban on gay marriage have dismissed the lawsuit.
"This is sadly, and predictably, the 'lawsuit of the week' filed by those who want to impose same-sex marriage on North Carolina, in spite of the fact that 61 percent of the voters passed the Marriage Amendment two years ago," Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the NC Values Coalition, says.
"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."
The United Church of Christ has recognized gay marriage since 2005 and ordained an openly gay man in 1972.
The lawsuit was filed in a federal court in Charlotte.
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