Religious Support for Marriage Equality Marches Forward
BY Trudy Ring
September 04 2014 5:00 AM ET
United Church of Christ
The United Church of Christ, which describes itself as “a church of extravagant welcome,” has been long been out in front in the fight for LGBT equality, both within the church and in civil life. In 1972 it became the first mainline Protestant denomination to ordain an openly gay minister, and it has solemnized same-sex unions for years; since 2005, the church has made the same marriage ceremony available to both gay and straight couples. But it has also gone outside the church sphere, advocating for governments to recognize equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. This year the denomination filed a lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage, saying it discriminates against religious bodies that endorse marriage equality and criminalizes ministers who officiate marriages for same-sex couples, as the law technically bars any clergy member from performing a marriage if the marriage is not licensed by the state. It’s believed to be the first time a church has been a plaintiff in a marriage equality suit. The church also has a record of advocacy on hate-crimes legislation, repealing restrictions on gay people in the military, programs to end bullying of LGBT youth, and a host of other relevant issues.