Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Church Synod and Various Clergy Sue Claiming North Carolina Same-Sex Marriage Ban Infringes Their Free Exercise Rights

A federal lawsuit with a different twist challenging North Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage was filed yesterday. In addition to same-sex couples, the plaintiffs are a religious denomination-- the United Church of Christ-- and individual clergy from UCC, Lutheran, Baptist, Unitarian-Universalist, and Reform Jewish congregations. The complaint (full text) in General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Cooper, (WD NC, filed 4/28/2014), claims, among other things, that North Carolina law makes it a criminal offense for a member of the clergy to conduct a same-sex marriage ceremony, and that this infringes the free exercise and expressive associational rights of clergy whose religious teachings and beliefs embrace same-sex marriage. The same-sex couples also assert due process and equal protection claims.  UCC has issued a press release and created a website with additional information on the case. The Charlotte Observer also reports on the case. [Thanks to Don Clark for the lead.]