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Apr 28, 2014

Equality NC Responds to United Church of Christ's Amendment One Challenge

Raleigh, N.C. — Equality NC, the state's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy organization responded today to this morning's federal challenge to Amendment One filed in the Western District of North Carolina on behalf of the United Church of Christ (UCC) as a national denomination and clergy from across faith traditions and same-sex couples. The case, General Synod of the United Church of Christ vs. Cooper, challenges the constitutionality of marriage laws in North Carolina - including Amendment One - that ban marriage between same-sex couples and make it illegal for clergy to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples within their congregations. Clergy plaintiffs seek the religious freedom to perform these ceremonies and same-sex couples seek the freedom to marry. The plaintiffs are represented by the law firms of Tin Fulton Walker & Owen and Arnold & Porter LLP.

Asheville-based Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE) will lead the public education campaign surrounding the lawsuit.

Equality NC's Chris Sgro joined Freedom Center for Social Justice's Bishop Tonyia Rawls today at the Charlotte press conference announcing the lawsuit to support the UCC as well as CSE's role in today's lawsuit against Amendment One.

“I am excited to see this challenge to Amendment One move forward," Chris Sgro, Executive Director of Equality NC. "At Equality NC, we fought hard to defeat Amendment One, and I am glad to see the harms it has caused highlighted. Campaign for Southern Equality, through this suit, will bring an important point to light - many religious North Carolinians feel strongly about the moral need to recognize same-sex marriages.”

Equality NC and the South Carolina Equality Coalition on April 18 filed an amicus brief with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., in a lawsuit that challenges Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban.

This case opens a new front in marriage equality litigation: it is the only case to bring 1st Amendment religious freedom claims among the 66 marriage equality cases pending in courts nationally. “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,” says Jake Sussman a partner at Tin Fulton Walker & Owen and lead counsel in General Synod of the United Church of Christ vs. Cooper.

More about General Synod of the United Church of Christ vs. Cooper >>>

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N.C. Clergy Bring Legal Challenge to Amendment One, Citing Religious Freedom (April 28, 2014)
This morning a federal challenge to Amendment One was filed in the Western District of North Carolina on behalf of the United Church of Christ (UCC) as a national denomination, clergy from across faith traditions and same-sex couples. The case challenges the constitutionality of marriage laws in North Carolina - including Amendment One - that ban marriage between same-sex couples and make it illegal for clergy to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples within their congregations. Clergy plaintiffs seek the religious freedom to perform these ceremonies and same-sex couples seek the freedom to marry. The plaintiffs are represented by the law firms of Tin Fulton Walker & Owen and Arnold & Porter LLP.

Equality NC Files Amicus Brief in Marriage Equality Lawsuit Championing Military Families (April 17, 2014)
Equality NC, North Carolina’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) advocacy organization will file an amicus brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Bostic v. Rainey. Bostic is a case which could decide the issue of marriage equality in several Southern states, including North Carolina.

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