A bold Detroit minister filed a lawsuit against the state of Michigan, alleging state law violates his right to religious freedom by barring him from conducting same-sex and polygamous marriages reports The Detroit News. Rev. Neil Patrick Carrick filed the lawsuit on Monday against Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette, citing that the state's ban on such unions runs counter to the First Amendment and 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Carrick issued a stoic statement on the matter Tuesday.
"Churches should have the right to marry who they want to marry. I've been told by others that 'we would love to marry (gays and lesbians) but we can't because we would be breaking the law.'
"The state of Michigan does not have the right to tell us what to do in our church."
In the lawsuit, Carrick claims the state engages in "the disparate treatment" of gays, lesbians and what he calls "plural relationships." Carrick, a former pastor with the United Church of Christ, says he turned down requests from same-sex to marry because he would be breaking state law. Michigan law states that someone who knowingly performs a marriage ceremony for same-sex couples is a punishable crime and carries a fine of up to $500. "Michigan officials create discrimination and potentially prosecution of private conduct between consenting adults without requiring law enforcement officials to show harm to society or those involved," Carrick said.
Gina Calcagno, the campaign manager for Michigan for Marriage, an advocacy group that wholeheartedly supports same-sex marriage, said many religious are eager to perform ceremonies for same-sex couples. "They are just waiting for the state to catch up," said Calcagno. The United Church of Christ filed a lawsuit last April against the state of North Carolina arguing that the state's marriage law violates the First Amendment rights of clergy to "free exercise of religion." A federal judge struck down the North Carolina law in October.
A spokesman for the Michigan Attorney General's Office declined to comment about the lawsuit Tuesday. Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would review a case challenging Michigan's gay marriage ban.