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More faith groups join federal suit to overturn N.C. same-sex marriage ban

Wednesday, June 4, 2014
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) and the Alliance of Baptists are are joining as plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage.

church-fileThe United Church of Christ filed the lawsuit in April, challenging North Carolina’s state ban on same sex marriage, claiming the ban is a violation of freedom of religion.

The suit is believed to be the nation’s first faith-based challenge to same-sex marriage bans.

Now, more clergy members are joining the suit, saying they’d like to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies in their congregations, but that they can’t because of the “unjust law.”

As it stands, North Carolina law makes it illegal for rabbis, priests, ministers and other religious officials to solemnize the marriage of same-sex couples on an equal basis with opposite sex couples without fear of criminal prosecution and civil penalty.

“This precludes rabbis from participating in one of the fundamental aspects of our Jewish religious traditions with respect to a specific segment of their congregations and communities,” said Rabbi Steven Fox, Chief Executive of the CCAR, in a statement.

“Depriving rabbis of the freedom to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies in North Carolina stigmatizes our religious beliefs and relegates many of our congregants and community members to second-class status,” he said.

With more than 2,000 rabbis in the U.S., Canada and beyond, the CCAR is the largest Jewish rabbinic movement in North America and represents an estimated 1.5 million Jews worldwide.

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The Alliance of Baptists began in 1987 and is composed of male and female laity and clergy, people of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, theological beliefs and ministry practices.

“By the joining the lawsuit in North Carolina, we are living deeply into our Christian values and offering a clear, Baptist voice for justice and religious liberty,” Alliance President Mike Castle said in a statement.

Additional plaintiffs include local clergy from other faith traditions and same-sex couples in Charlotte, Asheville, Concord and Huntersville, reports the Charlotte Observer.

The case is General Synod of the United Church of Christ vs. Cooper. It is one of four federal lawsuits challenging North Carolina’s constitutional ban, which was approved by voters in 2012.

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