Same-sex couples and clergy members file lawsuit against NC marriage ban

Today, April 28, a group of clergy members, people of faith, and same-sex couples filed a new federal lawsuit in North Carolina seeking the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. The lawsuit argues that Amendment One, which prohibits same-sex couples from marrying, violates the constitutional rights of gay and lesbian couples in NC while denying clergy members the religious freedom to perform these marriages. 

A public education campaign surrounding the lawsuit, General Synod of the United Church of Christ vs. Cooper, is being coordinated by the Campaign for Southern Equality, one of Freedom to Marry's regional partners for Southerners for the Freedom to Marry. 

The Campaign for Southern Equality explained today on a new site for the case,

This case opens a new front in litigation against state laws that ban same-sex marriage. In addition to bringing 14th Amendment claims under equal protection and due process, this lawsuit introduces a 1st 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.

The lead plaintiff in the case is General Synod of United Church of Christ, a mainline Protestant denomination with nearly 1 million members and more than 5,100 congregations nationwide. Eleven other people of faith and clergy members have joined the suit, arguing that they want to be able to legally perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples, and six same-sex couples, many who have been together for more than 25 years, are also plaintiffs.

The case joins two other lawsuits from North Carolina - the ACLU's Fisher-Borne v. Smith and Gerber and Berlin v. Cooper - in seeking marriage for same-sex couples. More than 65 lawsuits are currently working their way through state and federal court in 31 different states/territories. 

Read the full complaint here, and learn more about marriage litigation in North Carolina