N.C. Religious Leaders Challenge Gay Marriage Ban

Apr 28, 2014

Signs protesting Amendment 1, North Carolina's same-sex marriage ban.
Credit Refidnas / Flickr

A dozen faith leaders announced Monday they have filed a lawsuit challenging North Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage. The faith leaders say they would like to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies in their congregations, but can't because of the law.

It's the same argument often made affirming bans on same-sex marriage, though approached from the opposite direction.

"Because I am authorized and empower to marry same-sex couples... I am being hindered from performing my pastoral duties," said Joe Hoffman, a minister at First Memorial United Church of Christ in Asheville, and one of the plaintiffs in the case.

This group (what many are calling the first religious challengers to such a ban) is approaching the law from a more libertarian perspective.

"We're not trying to say that other churches have to do it the way we do it or believe the way we believe," said Nancy Petty, the pastor at Pullen Memorial Baptist in Raleigh, and plaintiff to the case. "All we're asking for is our right, under religious freedom, our right to determine who we marry and who we don't."

Not everyone is convinced. In a release, Tami Fitzgerald of the North Carolina Values Coalition derided the lawsuit.

“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," said Fitzgerald.