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Daniel2

Church Of Christ Files Nc Same-Sex Marriage Lawsuit

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In an interesting twist on the same-sex marriage and religion front, the United Church of Christ and 12 clergy members have filed a suit in favor of same-sex marriage, alleging discrimination because the state won't recognize the marriages of their same-sex members:

UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST AND 12 CLERGY FILE SUIT CHALLENGING NORTH CAROLINA'S GAY MARRIAGE BAN

By Andy Towle

4/28/2014

The United Church of Christ, 12 clergy members, and a group of gay couples have filed suit challenging North Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage, the AP reports:

The clergy members say they would like to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies in their congregations, but can't because of the law. The lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in Charlotte includes a dozen clergy members and the United Church of Christ, which has more than 1 million members.

Their attorney, Jake Sussman, says the lawsuit opens a new front in marriage equality litigation. The Rev. J. Bennett Guess says the ban has made is difficult for clergy members to marry same-sex couples: If they do, they know they'll be breaking the law.

http://www.wncn.com/story/25358352/lawsuit-seeks-to-overturn-nc-same-sex-marriage-ban

The Washington Blade has more:

The lawsuit — which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina — argues the marriage amendment violates the religious beliefs of denominations and congregants who support the recognition of gay nuptials and clergy who want to perform them. Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, president of the United Church of Christ, and Rev. Nancy Kraft of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Charlotte are among the plaintiffs who attended a Charlotte press conference.

“As a senior minister, I am often asked to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples in my congregation,” said Rev. Joe Hoffman (pictured) of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Asheville, who is a plaintiff along with Diane Ansley and Cathy McGaughey, two of his congregants who have been together for 14 years. “My denomination — the United Church of Christ — authorizes me to perform these ceremonies, but Amendment One denies my religious freedom by prohibiting me from exercising this right.”

http://www.washingtonblade.com/2014/04/28/united-church-of-christ-file-lawsuit-n-c-marriage-ban/

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Interesting.

 

One question that it brings up in my mind is, how does the ban in NC stop the clergy or the church from performing marriages according to their religious beliefs?

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Interesting.

 

One question that it brings up in my mind is, how does the ban in NC stop the clergy or the church from performing marriages according to their religious beliefs?

It appears the clergy are referring to performing legally-binding marriages for their same-sex members that are as legally-binding as the marriages they perform for their different-sex members.

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It appears the clergy are referring to performing legally-binding marriages for their same-sex members that are as legally-binding as the marriages they perform for their different-sex members.

Is government legitimization and recognition of all religious ceremonies a religious right protected by the constitution?

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Is government legitimization and recognition of all religious ceremonies a religious right protected by the constitution?

I'm not aware of a constitutional provision mandating universal government recognition of "all religious ceremonies." For example, if a religion married underage girls, it would not be constitutionally-protected merely because a religion promoted it.

Not all marriages are "similarly situated" from a legal perspective, and some may be reasonably restricted (underage, consanguinity, mental capacity, consent issues).

I think such an idea would be a red herring in the context of this discussion, because I also don't believe your query about "all religious ceremonies" reflects the grounds of the plaintiff's actual suit, as per the second link:

“The core protection of the First Amendment is that government may not regulate religious beliefs or take sides in religious controversies,” said Jonathan Martel of Arnold & Porter LLP, a law firm with offices in D.C. and other cities that is representing the plaintiffs alongside the Charlotte-based Tin Fulton Walker. “Marriage performed by clergy is a spiritual exercise and expression of faith essential to the values and continuity of the religion that government may regulate only where it has a compelling interest.”

- See more at: http://www.washingtonblade.com/2014/04/28/united-church-of-christ-file-lawsuit-n-c-marriage-ban/#sthash.m3OlH9CR.dpuf

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I'm not aware of a constitutional provision mandating universal government recognition of "all religious ceremonies." For example, if a religion married underage girls, it would not be constitutionally-protected merely because a religion promoted it.

Not all marriages are "similarly situated" from a legal perspective, and some may be reasonably restricted (underage, consanguinity, mental capacity, consent issues).

I think such an idea would be a red herring in the context of this discussion, because I also don't believe your query about "all religious ceremonies" reflects the grounds of the plaintiff's actual suit.

It appears the church is suing because the government recognizes some of its religious ceremonies as legal but not all of them, and they are claiming such actions goes against their religious rights.

Is that accurate?

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Is government legitimization and recognition of all religious ceremonies a religious right protected by the constitution?

Yes, when the government recognizes religion "A's" ceremony but rejects religion "B's" and the rejection is in violation of Equal Protection principles.

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Yes, when the government recognizes religion "A's" ceremony but rejects religion "B's" and the rejection is in violation of Equal Protection principles.

What religion's ceremony is being recognized that is not being recognized when that same ceremony is being performed in the church that is suing?

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It appears the church is suing because the government recognizes some of its religious ceremonies as legal but not all of them, and they are claiming such actions goes against their religious rights.

Is that accurate?

It's clear from the article (especially the portion I added to my previous post in an edit) that the plaintiffs understand that "government may regulate marriage when it has a compelling interest to do so"--so it would be inaccurate to suggest the plaintiff's believe that "ALL religious ceremonies" MUST be recognized, as I said in my previous post.

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It's clear from the article (especially the portion I added to my previous post in an edit) that the plaintiffs understand that the government can regulate marriage when it has a compelling interest to do so--so it's not universally true that "ALL religious ceremonies" MUST be recognized, as I said in my previous post.

So if the government has no mandate (based on the religious rights of the church) to recognize the legality of the church's ceremonies, how does the government not recognizing the legality of the church's SSM weddings infringe on their religious rights?

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What religion's ceremony is being recognized that is not being recognized when that same ceremony is being performed in the church that is suing?

The United Church of Christ's marriages of different-sex couples, vs. The United Church of Christ's marriages of same-sex couples.

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So if the government has no mandate (based on the religious rights of the church) to recognize the legality of the church's ceremonies, how does the government not recognizing the legality of the church's SSM weddings infringe on their religious rights?

Because, all other things (age, consanguinity, mental ability, consent-ability) being equal, same-sex couples have the same legal standing as different-sex couples--that is, same-sex and different-sex couples are "similarly situated."

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The United Church of Christ's marriages of different-sex couples, vs. The United Church of Christ's marriages of same-sex couples.

First, that doesn't work with the example as frank was talking about two different churches being treated differently, not one church having similar religious ceremonies treated differently.

But going with your example, does the church have a religious right to have *all* their weddings legally recognized by the government?

Is government legitimization of specific ceremonies a religious right?

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Because, all other things being equal, same-sex couples have the same legal standing as different-sex couples--that is, same-sex and different-sex couples are "similarly situated."

Doesn't this ignore the fact that all things aren't equal when it comes to SSM and hetero marriages?

Maybe I'm not understanding. In NC, do SSM couples and hetero couples have the same legal standing?

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But going with your example, does the church have a religious right to have *all* their weddings legally recognized by the government?

No, the government may regulate (and restrict) marriage when it has a legally-compelling interest to do so.

Is government legitimization of specific ceremonies a religious right?

Same answer as above.

It appears you keep re-phrasing a similar question and asking it over and over, but the answer is still the same.

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What religion's ceremony is being recognized that is not being recognized when that same ceremony is being performed in the church that is suing?

You know what the topic of discussion is and you know what the answer to your question is.

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Doesn't this ignore the fact that all things aren't equal when it comes to SSM and hetero marriages?

According to Federal District Judges; and handful of State Attorney Generals who will not defend their particular states ban on same sex marriage - the Governments of several states have failed to pass Constitutional muster in prohibiting ssm in favor of opposite sex couples. Surely you are aware that arguments against ssm have not been upheld, when reviewed under Constitution of the United States.

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Doesn't this ignore the fact that all things aren't equal when it comes to SSM and hetero marriages?

From a personal perspective, no two marriages of any kind are ever "equal" (as in "the same," in the eyes of the spouses, their children, etc).

From a legal perspective, in recent years courts have consistently been finding that marriages of different-sex and same-sex couples are civilly equal--which is the distinction being made by the plaintiffs in this case (and in every courtroom).

Maybe I'm not understanding. In NC, do SSM couples and hetero couples have the same legal standing?

Not yet--but that is the argument being made by the plaintiffs.

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According to Federal District Judges; and handful of State Attorney Generals who will not defend their particular states ban on same sex marriage - the Governments of several states have failed to pass Constitutional muster in prohibiting ssm in favor of opposite sex couples. Surely you are aware that arguments against ssm have not been upheld, when reviewed under Constitution of the United States.

 

I am.

 

It's just that, if a church is attempting to argue that SSM should be treated like hetero marriages because they are 'similarly situated,' don't those marriages have to actually be similarly situated in that state?

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You know what the topic of discussion is and you know what the answer to your question is.

 

No i don't.  Your answer made no sense to me which is why i asked for an example.

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It appears you keep re-phrasing a similar question and asking it over and over, but the answer is still the same.

 

I am, because i don't think you've actually answered it yet (though i do believe that you believe you have).  Even after all of these posts i still cannot figure out what constitutionally protected religious right this church is being denied by the government.  

 

As i understand it, having a marriage (any marriage) recognized as legal by the state when it is performed by clergy is a privilege that has been granted to churches and is not a right that is protected by the constitution.  If it's not a right, then no church can say it was robbed of it's religious rights when they are denied such.

 

Can you point me to somewhere (or share it here) where this constitutional right to perform legally recognized marriages is discussed?  That would help me understand what you are actually saying. 

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I was reading further about this case and found something that clarifies the issue for me.

 

"What interest does the United Church of Christ have in toppling the state’s homophobic ban? Under North Carolina law, a minister who officiates a marriage ceremony between a couple with no valid marriage license is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor and can be thrown in jail for 45 days. And since gay marriage is illegal in North Carolina, that means any minister who dares celebrate a gay union in his church may face jail time."

 

It completely makes sense to me that the church would sue for the right to perform these marriages (whether they are legally recognized or not) because the current law actually is keeping them from worshiping according to their religious beliefs.

 

Obviously the state does not have to legalize SSM to take care of the issue-all they would have to do to answer the concern of the church stated above is decriminalize performing marriages for people without a marriage license.

 

I completely support churches being able to legally worship how they see fit or perform any (within reason) religious ceremony they believe in.

 

I just don't believe that the state is ever constitutionally required to legitimize a religious ceremony. 

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I am, because i don't think you've actually answered it yet (though i do believe that you believe you have). Even after all of these posts i still cannot figure out what constitutionally protected religious right this church is being denied by the government.

As i understand it, having a marriage (any marriage) recognized as legal by the state when it is performed by clergy is a privilege that has been granted to churches and is not a right that is protected by the constitution. If it's not a right, then no church can say it was robbed of it's religious rights when they are denied such.

Can you point me to somewhere (or share it here) where this constitutional right to perform legally recognized marriages is discussed? That would help me understand what you are actually saying.

I believe the case will be successfully made by basing the arguments in the principles of the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Full Faith and Credit Clause of Article IV, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution.

I realize you’ve received some additional information about the case which has changed your view about the UCC filing suit to be able to perform marriages without violating the law (Unitarian Universalists experienced similar issues back in 2004, when their ministers were being arrested for marrying same-sex couples).

Assuming you’re a U.S. citizen, even in consideration of your new information, you said a few things I find troubling. You believe:

1. "Having a marriage recognized as legal by the state when it is performed by clergy is a privilege that has been granted to churches.”

2. No religion has a “right [to have its marriages recognized]” protected by the U.S. constitution.

3. Since it’s “not a right, then no church can say it was robbed of its religious rights when then are denied” to have [its marriages recognized].

So, you believe it’s acceptable for the U.S. government to grant some religions civil “privileges” that it denies to other similarly-situated religions?

And you don’t see that type of religious favoritism as a violation of any Constitutional principles…?

In other words, you don't see the government selectively 'granting privileges' to some religions while denying them to other similarly-situated religions as a violation of the state's prohibition to 'establish' religion...?

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Assuming you’re a U.S. citizen, even in consideration of your new information, you said a few things I find troubling. You believe:

1. "Having a marriage recognized as legal by the state when it is performed by clergy is a privilege that has been granted to churches.”

2. No religion has a “right [to have its marriages recognized]” protected by the U.S. constitution.

3. Since it’s “not a right, then no church can say it was robbed of its religious rights when then are denied” to have [its marriages recognized].

So, you believe it’s acceptable for the U.S. government to grant some religions civil “privileges” that it denies to other similarly-situated religions?

 

 

No.  

 

I believe it would not be against the constitution (and therefore not in violation of anyone's rights) for the government to deny clergy the right to legally marry people.  Just like i wouldn't think it would be a big deal if the government stopped allowing ship captains to marry people.  Clergy and ship captains are just examples where the government has allowed specific groups of people to serve in that capacity.  These groups of people don't have some kind of constitutionally protected right to legally marry people. 

 

Beyond that though, i don't really see that it would violate anyone's rights if the government did decide to allow clergy to legally marry people in one church, but not in another if they had a logical reason to do so.  This happens all the time in Europe (where lds temple sealers are not granted the privilege of legally marrying anyone) and I don't find it to be a grave violation of anyone's humanity.

 

And you don’t see that type of religious favoritism as a violation of any Constitutional principles…?

 

I was never talking about religious favoritism.  That interpretation is all you.   :)

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I am.

It's just that, if a church is attempting to argue that SSM should be treated like hetero marriages because they are 'similarly situated,' don't those marriages have to actually be similarly situated in that state?

Here is something from George Mason Law on similarly situated.

And here,History of Equal Protection and the Levels of Review; levels of review being the "logic" you mentioned in your last post.

Both will give you a good read on jurisprudence regarding Equal Protection.

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