Gay marriage ban challenged – by NC pastors!
IN A startling move that’s horrified Christian fundies, a coalition of clergy members filed a federal lawsuit on Monday against North Carolina’s constitutional ban on gay marriage.
They havebeen accused of misusing the legal system to force their “errant beliefs” on the Bible belt state’s bigots.
NC Values Coalition executive director Tami Fitzgerald, who helped lead a clot of Christian and conservative groups supporting the state’s 2012 constitutional amendment, said the lawsuit is an attempt to void the will of voters who backed traditional marriage. Six in 10 voters backed changing North Carolina’s constitution. She wailed:
This is sadly, and predictably, the ‘lawsuit of the week’ filed by those who want to impose same-sex marriage on North Carolina. Moreover, it’s both ironic and sad that an entire religious denomination and its clergy who purport holding to Christian teachings on marriage would look to the courts to justify their errant beliefs.
The clergy members said that they’d like to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies in their congregations, but that they can’t because of the “unjust law”. Their attorney, Jake Sussman, says it’s the only case to bring the First Amendment religious freedom claims among the more than 60 marriage equality cases pending in the nation’s state and federal courts.
Said the Rev J Bennett Guess, executive minister with the Cleveland-based United Church of Christ, which is a plaintiff in the lawsuit:
North Carolina’s marriage laws are a direct affront to freedom of religion. We feel that it is important that any person that comes into community life of a United Church of Christ congregation be afforded equal pastoral care and equal opportunity to religious services that clergy provide.
But in North Carolina, clergy are often faced with a troubling decision:
Whether to provide those services or break the law. That’s something no clergy member should be faced with.
Along with United Church of Christ, which has more than a million parishioners, a dozen clergy members and same sex-couples who want to marry were listed as plaintiffs. The defendants included North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper and several county district attorneys as well as five registers of deeds.
The US Supreme Court ruled last year that the federal government must recognise marriages of same-sex couples.
Seventeen states allow gay marriage, and federal judges have struck down bans in Michigan, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia.
Meanwhile an American evangelic preacher and “historian”, David Barton suggested this week that America would be a better place if women were denied the vote.
On an episode of his “WallBuilders Live,” David Barton – described as “the Ken Ham of US history” – explained that women were not given the right to vote when the Constitution was written because the Founding Fathers were trying to protect the institution of the family by giving every “family” a right to vote through the male head of the household.
And you have to remember back then, husband and wife, I mean the two were considered one. That is the biblical precept. That is the way they looked at them in the civil community. That is a family that is voting and so the head of the family is traditionally considered to be the husband and even biblically still continues to be so …
Now, as we’ve moved away from the family unit – you need to be independent from the family, don’t be chained down and be a mother and don’t be chained down and be a father and don’t be chained down to your parents, you know, we’ve moved into more of a family anarchy kind of thing, the ‘Modern Family’ kind of portrayal – that understanding has gone away.
Responding to a question from a listener who argued that the Founding Fathers denied women the right to vote not out of sexism but rather based on the biblical principle that a house divided against itself cannot stand, Barton said that this interpretation was exactly right because not allowing women to vote was designed “to keep the family together”.