Lawsuit: unusual approach against gay marriage ban

A coalition of clergy members filed a novel federal lawsuit Monday against North Carolina's constitutional ban on gay marriage, saying it violates their religious freedom.
AP Wire
Apr 29, 2014

The clergy members said that they'd like to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies in their congregations, but that they can't because of the "unjust law." Their attorney, Jake Sussman, says it's the only case to bring the First Amendment religious freedom claims among the more than 60 marriage equality cases pending in the nation's state and federal courts.

"North Carolina's marriage laws are a direct affront to freedom of religion," said the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, executive minister with the Cleveland-based United Church of Christ, which is a plaintiff in the lawsuit. "We feel that it is important that any person that comes into community life of a United Church of Christ congregation be afforded equal pastoral care and equal opportunity to religious services that clergy provide."

But in North Carolina, clergy are often faced with a troubling decision: "whether to provide those services or break the law," he said. "That's something no clergy member should be faced with."

Along with United Church of Christ, which has more than 1 million parishioners, a dozen clergy members and same sex-couples who want to marry were listed as plaintiffs. The defendants included North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper and several county district attorneys as well as five registers of deeds.

Noelle Talley, a spokeswoman with the attorney general's office, said officials there hadn't seen the lawsuit yet.

Wake County Register of Deeds Laura Riddick said she was shocked to be named as a defendant. Her office handles marriage licenses.

"It's ridiculous for any registry to be sued over same-gender marriage, which is a matter of state law, not county policy. Only the legislature or the courts can change the law. Our job as county administrators is to apply the law as it is, just as we will apply the law if it changes. Suing us misleads the public, wastes county taxpayer dollars and creates unnecessary conflict," she said.

This isn't the first legal challenge to North Carolina's law banning same-sex marriage, which was approved by voters in 2012.

The American Civil Liberties Union earlier this month launched a new legal assault on the state's ban on recognizing same-sex marriage, urging a federal judge to quickly negate it to help children and gay couples suffering from urgent health problems. The civil rights group said it was seeking to speed up a decision in a lawsuit filed in 2012 by citing the urgent health needs of a child who suffers from cerebral palsy who was adopted by one of the lesbian couples involved in the case.

The ACLU also filed a new lawsuit on behalf of three other lesbian couples struggling with health conditions made more difficult because they lack legal recognition of their marriages performed in other states, said ACLU staff attorney Elizabeth Gill.

The ACLU and the same-sex couples they represent argue a judge should act quickly to suspend North Carolina's marriage ban because they are suffering immediate and irreparable harm.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that the federal government must recognize marriages of same-sex couples.

Seventeen states allow gay marriage, and federal judges have struck down bans in Michigan, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia.

"This lawsuit introduces a First Amendment claim that the marriage ban in North Carolina violates the right to the free exercise of religious beliefs by denominations, clergy and congregants who believe that same sex marriages are theologically valid and want to perform marriage ceremonies," Sussman said.

But NC Values Coalition executive director Tami Fitzgerald, who helped lead a coalition of Christian and conservative groups supporting the state's 2012 constitutional amendment, said the lawsuit is an attempt to void the will of voters who backed traditional marriage. Six in 10 voters backed changing North Carolina's constitution.

"This is sadly, and predictably, the 'lawsuit of the week' filed by those who want to impose same-sex marriage on North Carolina," Fitzgerald said. "Moreover, 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."

Comments

Robinson Reader

These people are not ministers of the creator, the eternal, though they claim to be. But this is nothing new nor unexpected...scripture repeatedly warns against these false ministers:

2Co 11:12 But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast.
2Co 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.
2Co 11:14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.
2Co 11:15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

Their works are to embrace and teach sin...whether it be the sin of homosexuality or the sin of lusting after someone who is not our spouse. Being told that WE, WE, are committing sexual sins when we do and think certain ways is not popular. Nobody likes to be told they're wrong when it comes to something so private and intimate. But nonetheless as Christians we are called to defend the truth....

2Ti 4:2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
2Ti 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;
2Ti 4:4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

Paul makes it crystal clear what times we're living in...in Romans 1 he talks about what happens to people and societies who do not really recognize the creator God. It's a great chapter that describes the prevalent thought today:

Rom 1:22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
Rom 1:23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
Rom 1:24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,
Rom 1:25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Rom 1:26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.
Rom 1:27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
Rom 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;

In other words, the natural result of turning our backs on God is a mind that is debased. A mind that does not and cannot bow to God.

But there's nothing new under the sun. The same thing has been happening for quite a while. We're just idiots who can't remember or learn history. The prophet Ezekiel said of Israel:

Eze 22:25 The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey; they have devoured people; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst.
Eze 22:26 Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.
Eze 22:27 Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, to shed blood, to destroy people, and to get dishonest gain.
Eze 22:28 Her prophets plastered them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies for them, saying, 'Thus says the Lord GOD,' when the LORD had not spoken.

This is the world we live in today.

skyking007

Religious freedom is not being able to force others to follow your beliefs. It seems to me that these people want to control people not love them.

Robinson Reader

These so-called ministers are the ones who are attempting to force their beliefs on others. There is nothing stopping them from "marrying" people who have homosexual or heterosexual sex. Their respective organizations won't stop them...they condone and accept the marrying of those who engage in homosexual sex. It's not illegal anywhere for them to have a ceremony in their churches to "marry" anyone they want.

But that's not what they want. They want the REST of society and culture to accept their erroneous beliefs. That's why they use lawsuits such as this to overthrow the will of the people and force their beliefs on them.

They want every aspect of government...local, state and federal...to force their viewpoint and make it the law of the land. There is no inbetween with them. It's not enough that SOME states will allow these "marriages". That's too much freedom of choice for people to have. They want EVERYONE to bow down at the altar they've created.

snlfan

My alter is none...
all gods are make believe...
so keep your beliefs to yourself...
I have no problems with gay people wanting the same legal rights as straight.

Truth Be Told

Seems you've just expressed your beliefs.
Do your rules for others apply to yourself as well, or must just others "keep their beliefs to themselves" ?

patzy

Hear hear! Last night a bunch of them dragged me out of my house and forced me to have a same-sex marriage. This must be stopped.

snlfan

I like this http://youtu.be/x2WK_eWihdU as far as bible quotes go...

snlfan

BTW my god is newer than your and it thinks that gay marriage is ok...

http://www.venganza.org/2011/01/...

Robinson Reader

Haha...yeah, I've seen the flying spaghetti monster. It's neither new nor original. Mocking Jesus Christ and crucifying his followers is an old sport.

Look, I get it. People don't like being told that there is an absolute standard of right and wrong. That's also not new.

And I know I'm not perfect...far from it...we've all got sins to overcome and deal with and I have my share. But as a Christian it's my duty to point these things out to a lost world.

Act 17:30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,
Act 17:31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead."
Act 17:32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, "We will hear you again on this matter."

patzy

Mocking Jesus and crucifying his followers? Someone's got it backwards.

GH55

Matthew 7:1-3
King James Version (KJV)
7 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Why do people seem to expend so much energy telling others how to live? If it is not harming you, why do you care? Are you going to turn gay because some same sex couple gets married? Then get over it!

You may point things out, but you have no right to judge otheres! You may teach, you may not condemn!

Robinson Reader

As stated previously we, including myself, are all sinners in dire need of forgiveness for our sins. The "judgment" you're quoting in Matthew 7 involves a condemnation of someone else with the attitude that we are somehow "better" then them.
That's not the judgment I'm making. The judgement I'm making is that the Lord Jesus Christ says specifically that sexual sins are..well...sexual sins. The sin of homosexuality isn't any better or worse than my sin of lusting after a woman not my wife.

And for one who is NOT a Christian this isn't very germane anyways. For those who are not Christians there is no expectation that they can or will change their ways or even recognize that what they're doing is against the law of God.

However, this article identifies those who claim to be Christians and are advocating and promoting things that are decidedly non-Christian. As such the response of a Christian should be:

Jud 1:3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
Jud 1:4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

This is the present situation in Christianity and Christians clearly have an obligation to judge those who claim to be Christians:

1Co 5:9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people.
1Co 5:10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.
1Co 5:11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.
1Co 5:12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?
1Co 5:13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore "PUT AWAY FROM YOURSELVES THE EVIL PERSON."

Note how Paul makes a distinction between those who are outside of Christianity and those who claim to be Christians. We can and should judge those who claim they speak for Christ but in reality advocate for sin...the very sin he sacrificed his life for so that we could live.

Robinson Reader

As stated previously we, including myself, are all sinners in dire need of forgiveness for our sins. The "judgment" you're quoting in Matthew 7 involves a condemnation of someone else with the attitude that we are somehow "better" then them.
That's not the judgment I'm making. The judgement I'm making is that the Lord Jesus Christ says specifically that sexual sins are..well...sexual sins. The sin of homosexuality isn't any better or worse than my sin of lusting after a woman not my wife.

And for one who is NOT a Christian this isn't very germane anyways. For those who are not Christians there is no expectation that they can or will change their ways or even recognize that what they're doing is against the law of God.

However, this article identifies those who claim to be Christians and are advocating and promoting things that are decidedly non-Christian. As such the response of a Christian should be:

Jud 1:3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
Jud 1:4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

This is the present situation in Christianity and Christians clearly have an obligation to judge those who claim to be Christians:

1Co 5:9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people.
1Co 5:10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.
1Co 5:11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.
1Co 5:12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?
1Co 5:13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore "PUT AWAY FROM YOURSELVES THE EVIL PERSON."

Note how Paul makes a distinction between those who are outside of Christianity and those who claim to be Christians. We can and should judge those who claim they speak for Christ but in reality advocate for sin...the very sin he sacrificed his life for so that we could live.

truthhurts

so how does a peronal feeling equate to freedom of religion?

for example; if my religion says that is ok to sacrafice a person in the name of whatever, does that mean I can kill people? -NO

Truth Be Told

And if grandma had wheels she'd be wagon- but she doesn't.

happycamper

Your not 100 percent correct but i like you thinking, so many people on the stray, they forget the basic,s of life, why we are really here !!!

Robinson Reader

I use bible verses here for a couple of reasons:

1. The so-called ministers in this story are attempting to make the case that God, the God of the Christian bible, encourages, condones and accepts homosexual behavior. That's not any more true then saying Christ accepts an adulterous affair between heterosexuals. Both are demonstrably wrong and sins according to the Christian bible and according to Jesus Christ...the only objective record we have of our savior. As such I use it as Paul outlined:

2Ti 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
2Ti 3:17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

In this case it's for reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness.

2. Which leads to point 2...instruction in righteousness. Without an objective standard of truth and righteousness truth and righteousness become whatever culture SAYS it is. This leads to dictatorships, tyranny and despair. I'm as incapable as anyone else but the advantage that Christian have is that we can match up our feelings, thoughts and hearts with the instructions of God present in scriputre. If they vary in significant ways then we're either wrong or scripture is wrong. And scripture isn't wrong. It's a humbling thing to accept that we can and do understand, think and behave incorrectly. But when we do we discover the true freedom....freedom from sin and it's disastrous effects.

davewali

I cannot tell you how happy I am that most of the comments tell the rest of society how to live. I guess THEY are the only people sent to earth to interpret the Bible correctly, and everybody else is wrong.
You pass a law based on YOUR religion....but you forget one thing. The Constitution GIVES you freedom OF religion, but does not mandate it. It also gives us freedom FROM religion. Society has the right to believe as they will. Does gay marriage affect you? Does it affect YOUR marriage? YOUR Bible may say it is wrong....not everybody follows your Bible.
Does your Bible tell you to be compassionate to others? Maybe you should follow those verses.

fixitman

Don't you people understand that the Bible was written by MAN. So once people understand that this is all a made up story and start living life you will contiune to have your problems. The only purpose of a church is for people to meet and for fellowship and to help the people that need help nothing more. If you would read the bible it is all based on insect if you want to believe how man was created. You had Adam and Eve who had kids then their kids breed with each other to produce more kids so what is right. Just like I said church was created by man for man to get rich off people giving ten percent of their money to the church for a few to get richer.

Robinson Reader

That's certainly a viewpoint that is popular and understandable. It's understandable because it's the viewpoint of the "natural" man...how we think and feel without Christ in our lives.

Paul wrote to the first century church about this disbelief among men.

1Co 2:13 These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
1Co 2:14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1Co 2:15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.
1Co 2:16 For "WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD THAT HE MAY INSTRUCT HIM?" But we have the mind of Christ.

The things of God, including scripture, are foolishness to those who haven't been called to serve him. But nonetheless...

2Ti 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,

As far as churches, yes, many many churches and so called religious people have for centuries taken advantage of people and have made greed their goal. They have corrupted and exploited Christianity. But again this isn't a surprise. Christ predicted it:

Mat 7:21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
Mat 7:22 Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'
Mat 7:23 And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'

In other words, Christ predicted that many would claim to be Christians and would do many great things in his name. But they don't really know Christ. Like the ministers in the article, they advocate and preach lawlessness against the commandments of God.

patzy

Steve told me that Paul is full of crap.

davewali

Robinson Reader: do you have any LOGICAL arguments that DON'T include Bible quotes? The Bible can, and has been, interpreted in different ways. Could it be that YOUR interpretation is wrong?

Robinson Reader

You said: "Robinson Reader: do you have any LOGICAL arguments that DON'T include Bible quotes?"

My response: Of course not. When it comes to righteousness and morality there is no logic other than what God has said in the bible. If it was good enough for Jesus it's good enough for me... :-)

fixitman

Robinson reader Why don't you go wast your time chasing after the church time. You people all you think about is how much time you are at chuch getting brained washed. I have a lot more important things to do on my days offs. One of them is not being bombard with the idea out of some book that a man wrote. until you understand that you will be left in the dark. As far as churches, yes, many many churches and so called religious people have for centuries taken advantage of people and have made greed their goal. They have corrupted and exploited Christianity. But again this isn't a surprise. Christ predicted it: It still happens and will continue to happen because the church full of dumb people who think they will be saved if they donate 10 percent of their money to the greedy.So Stop chasing after the man tell you to give up your money to make the man infront of the church richer.

Robinson Reader

You said: "Robinson reader Why don't you go wast your time chasing after the church time. You people all you think about is how much time you are at chuch getting brained washed"

My response: Great term actually...brain washed. It's true...we do need our brains washed by Christ. Our minds without him are corrupt, twisted and destitute.

Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
Rom 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Be transformed by the "renewing of your mind". Be brainwashed by Christ!

Eph 4:20 But you have not so learned Christ,
Eph 4:21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:
Eph 4:22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,
Eph 4:23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind,
Eph 4:24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

That's exactly what a good church (which are believers in Christ) should do...help us use Christ to be brainwashed and renew our minds. If some place claims to represent Christ and they're putting money over this then you know what to do...hit the street!

happycamper

Maybe he speaks the truth, so many have wondered away from religion !!!

patzy

I wonder why they wander...

fixitman

Robison reader you are the reason people get away from the Church you drive it down peoples throut. Give the bible verse a break. You are so involed you dont understand reality. Normal life does not ffocus or center around church. Get out of church and live a normal life you might be happier. We all would be happier if you could comment with out using the bible use your own words would make more sense than the hog wash you have been writing.

Robinson Reader

You said: "Get out of church and live a normal life you might be happier. We all would be happier if you could comment with out using the bible use your own words would make more sense than the hog wash you have been writing."

I say: God forbid I should ever leave the church of my God and his Son! You don't know what real happiness is my friend until you see how your life can be with God in it. Normal life SHOULD center around God and his church. What you call normal life is really abnormal and twisted!

patzy

But... but... sleeping in on Sundays is just so nice!

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