The arch-liberal United Church of Christ, which approved of gay marriage back in 2005, is suing North Carolina for infringing its religious liberty by not allowing pastors to perform same-sex weddings.
From the Religious News Service:
The United Church of Christ sued the state of North Carolina on Monday (April 28) over its constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, saying the 2012 amendment violates the religious freedom of its clergy.
The liberal denomination of some 1 million members is the first in the country to attack a same-sex marriage ban on religious freedom grounds, taking a cue from religious conservatives who used the same argument over the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act.
In 1972, the UCC was the first denomination in the United States to ordain an openly gay pastor, and in 2005 was the first to endorse the fledgling movement to allow civil marriage for same-sex couples. The Unitarian Universalist Association endorsed the movement in 1996, seven years before Massachusetts became the first state to legalize gay marriage.
The suit asks the federal courts in the Western District of North Carolina to strike down the ban, which was passed by state voters. It argues that the ban limits clergy choices and violates the principle of “free exercise of religion” by requiring clergy to minister to one segment of the public.