Baptist Minister Protests Lack of Marriage Equality

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com August 05 2011 8:55 PM ET

A lesbian minister in North Carolina has joined the ranks of those willing to officiate marriage ceremonies but not sign licenses until gay couples’ marriages have the same legal recognition as heterosexual ones.

Nancy Petty (pictured), pastor of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, recently told her congregation she would prefer that straight couples have a magistrate at the local courthouse sign their license. She is waiting to hear if church deacons will endorse her position and if a vote of the congregation will be necessary, the Associated Press reports.

“I’m perpetuating what I believe is an unjust law,” Petty said. “I don’t sign birth certificates. I don’t sign death certificates. I do baptisms. I do funerals. There’s no other ritual of the state that I have to sign a document.”

Pullen Memorial has a history of progressive activism; its leaders opposed segregation and the Vietnam War. It has blessed same-sex unions since 1992 and was expelled from the Southern Baptist Convention for doing so.

Petty, the church’s first woman pastor, estimates that she has conducted about 75 marriages for straight couples and an equal number of holy unions for same-sex pairs since she began her tenure in 2002. It is one of the few churches in North Carolina that will perform same-sex unions. “I have people drive here from all over the state,” Petty said.

In April a Disciples of Christ congregation in Louisville, Ky., announced that its ministers would no longer sign marriage licenses, as a protest against marriage inequality.