United Church of Christ and 12 Clergy File Suit Challenging North Carolina’s Gay Marriage Ban

UccThe United Church of Christ, 12 clergy members, and a group of gay couples have filed suit challenging North Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage, the AP reports:

The clergy members say they would like to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies in their congregations, but can't because of the law. The lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in Charlotte includes a dozen clergy members and the United Church of Christ, which has more than 1 million members.

Their attorney, Jake Sussman, says the lawsuit opens a new front in marriage equality litigation. The Rev. J. Bennett Guess says the ban has made is difficult for clergy members to marry same-sex couples: If they do, they know they'll be breaking the law.

The Washington Blade has more: Hoffman

The lawsuit — which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina — argues the marriage amendment violates the religious beliefs of denominations and congregants who support the recognition of gay nuptials and clergy who want to perform them. Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, president of the United Church of Christ, and Rev. Nancy Kraft of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Charlotte are among the plaintiffs who attended a Charlotte press conference.

“As a senior minister, I am often asked to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples in my congregation,” said Rev. Joe Hoffman (pictured) of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Asheville, who is a plaintiff along with Diane Ansley and Cathy McGaughey, two of his congregants who have been together for 14 years. “My denomination — the United Church of Christ — authorizes me to perform these ceremonies, but Amendment One denies my religious freedom by prohibiting me from exercising this right.”

A lawsuit is already underway in North Carolina, filed earlier this month by the ACLU.


  1. Anonymous says

    @UFFDA are you talking about the same christ that said it would be better for his followers to be castrated than to get married? I’ll agree that this is good news, but it has nothing to do with Jesus. Maybe they can show other christians that their “beliefs” are no excuse. Prejudice is prejudice, whether you blame it on god or not.


    To the churches who are now going to fight in the courts for their rights, I say Hallelujah. Religious rights work both ways. The Christian Right does not have a monopoly on understanding the sacred texts. Progressive congregations need to be heard too and their rights honored.

    And to Anonymous, one needs to read all of scripture with some depth – Christ was not telling us not to get married. His teachings need to be taken in context.

  3. disgusted merican says

    its about time – someone from the left (church) stood up and said thier RIGHTS are being Infringed upon….!!!!

  4. Anonymous says

    @Richard the context was Jesus telling his followers how terrible he saw the condition of married people to be. He then told them some people castrated themselves to go to heaven. Saint Augustine didn’t think he was kidding. Who can say whether Jesus was anti gay? But we can say pretty authoritatively that he was anti marriage. Basically he said if you absolutely could not control yourself then you can get married, although it is a bad idea, according to Mr. Of Nazareth anyway.

  5. northalabama says

    can’t wait to hear the argument shift from “traditional marriage” to “traditional religion”. this will be interesting to watch as it unfolds.

  6. steve talbert says

    At first Christianity was a celibate doomsday cult waiting for the end if the world in their lifetimes. When that didn’t happen they realized they needed to make it a little more upbeat. Now the tribulations and mayhem comes sometime in the future.

    Marriage wasn’t a part of liturgy until over 1,000 years had past.

  7. Anonymous says

    @Alex Paul said the picture painted of marriage was less than satisfying. Jesus responded that he should cut his johnson off.

  8. UFFDA says

    OK, so now I’ve looked up and read all the crap about marriage that Jesus said, or is purported to have said.
    And it’s all crap. Still, Christians in favor of gay marriage is progress.

  9. RICHARD B says

    @Anonymous – The conversation in Matthew 19, to which you are referring, is not meant to come up with new rules, or even illustrate Jesus’ views upon the already established rules. His whole emphasis was to point out that living by the law – Moses’ law and all other rulings – one always fails. Going on in the chapter, he says, Give up everything and follow me. Does he expect us to do the same? The answer he gives is simply to love God and to love one another. That’s something else I don’t hear from the Christian Right. It’s as though they are deaf to the real depth of the meaning of Jesus.

    But, please, don’t pull out one verse without considering what truly is being said.

  10. says

    A group of Christian pastors standing up as Christians and putting resources into pushing the government to get us to marriage equality … I approve.

  11. Chuck Mielke says

    I appreciate the irony of progressive pastors and denominations objecting to bans on same-sex marriage on the basis of religious liberty. At the very least it’s a heads-up to the judiciary that conservative christianity is not the only christian voice in the debate.

    However, I think it suggests a risk of the judiciary, like Constantine, attempting to decide religious doctrine by fiat. I hope the courts will decide to stay completely out of religious issues by overturning all marriage bans as an infringement of the separation clause.

  12. Reality says

    So glad the UCC is leading this fight in NC – about time people realize there are churches that DO want to perform equal marriages and it’s their religious right to do so!

  13. wheelie81 says

    This is exactly why I can’t stand the queens that demonize Christians and others of faith….they’re not all bad!

  14. TKinSC says

    “My denomination — the United Church of hippie-Christ — authorizes me to perform these ceremonies, but Amendment One denies my religious freedom by prohibiting me from exercising this right.”

    These hippie-Christians can practice their religion all they want. They don’t need state approval to perform a religious ceremony.

  15. Mark Uden says

    Why are you against Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior? Did He not say that every evil person that does wicked things against Him and His Father world be cast into the lake of fire. You should repent and turn away from the evil that you do. You may never respond to my e-mail but remember this is only a warning.
    Mark Uden
    2423 Myrtle St.
    Sioux city, Iowa 51103