Rabbis, Baptists join North Carolina marriage lawsuit

United Church of Christ lawsuit says amendment violates religious freedom

Clergy and national officers with the United Church of Christ join with other local clergy and their legal counsel at a press conference announcing their lawsuit in April.

Clergy and national officers with the United Church of Christ join with other local clergy and their legal counsel at a press conference announcing their lawsuit in April.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Two new faith groups and several clergy have added their names on a landmark First Amendment lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment on marriage.

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On Tuesday, the United Church of Christ, the lead defendant in the case, announced that the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Alliance of Baptists and several individual clergy from various faith traditions, had joined the case as plaintiffs.

The case was filed by the United Church of Christ on April 28. The church and other plaintiffs say the state’s anti-LGBT amendment violates the Constitution’s First Amendment and protections of religious freedom.

“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,” the Rev. Dr. Michael Castle, president of the Alliance of Baptists, said in a press release.  “It is also important that we stand with the United Church of Christ, our ecumenical partner in mission and ministry, in this bold action.”

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The Alliance of Baptists is an association of progressive Baptist congregations. It was founded in 1987 and bases its mission and covenant on traditional and historic Baptist principles such as religious freedom, individual freedom and the autonomy of the local church. Seventeen Baptist churches in North Carolina — including Charlotte’s Myers Park and Park Road churches, Winston-Salem’s Wake Forest Baptist, Chapel Hill’s Binkley Memorial and Raleigh’s Pullen Memorial — and four in South Carolina are affiliated with the Alliance.

The Central Conference of American Rabbis is a national network of nearly 2,000 Reform rabbis.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, who has personally said he supports marriage equality, is still defending the amendment. He has asked the Western North Carolina U.S. District Court for a stay on any proceedings in the case until the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals makes its decision in a similar case in Virginia.

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.