By Michael O'Loughlin
Originally published on Advocate.com June 06 2014 5:00 AM ET
A group of rabbis is joining the lawsuit brought by the United Church of Christ challenging North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage.
The Central Conference of American Rabbis, along with the Alliance of Baptists, is joining what The Charlotte Observer reports is “ the nation’s first faith-based challenge to same-sex marriage bans.”
Current North Carolina law prohibits clergy from from officiating same-sex marriages, under the threat of prosecution. In April the United Church of Christ, a liberal branch of Christianity, announced it was challenging the ban in federal court.
The Central Conference of American Rabbis represents 1.5 million Jews around the world, with membership of over 2,000 rabbis in the Reform branch of Judaism. Its CEO, Rabbi Steven Fox, said North Carolina’s ban prevented rabbis from exercising religious freedom.
“This precludes rabbis from participating in one of the fundamental aspects of our Jewish religious traditions with respect to a specific segment of their congregations and communities,” he said in a statement this week.
“Depriving rabbis of the freedom to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies in North Carolina stigmatizes our religious beliefs and relegates many of our congregants and community members to second-class status.”
Added Alliance of Baptists president Mike Castle: “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.”
Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, general minister and president of the UCC, has called the North Carolina law “unfortunate.”
“The United Church of Christ is proud to defend the religious freedoms upon which this nation was founded. It is unfortunate that, even today, laws are designed to treat gay and lesbian people unequally. In its efforts to restrict gay marriage, the State of North Carolina has restricted one of the essential freedoms of our ministers and of all Americans,” he said in a statement in April.
In 2005 the UCC adopted a resolution stating, “Equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender and declares that government should not interfere with couples regardless of gender who choose to marry and share fully and equally in the rights, responsibilities and commitment of legally recognized marriage.”
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