As it stands, North Carolina law makes it illegal for religious officials to solemnize the marriage of any couple that is not legally licensed to marry. If a clergy person performs an unlicensed wedding they do so under the threat of criminal prosecution and civil penalty. AWAB sees this as a clear violation of religious liberty and the separation of church and state.
You can read the full amended complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.
Rev. Robin R. Lunn, Executive Director of AWAB said...
"For more than 20 years the clergy of AWAB member congregations have been blessing same-sex unions as the free expression of their religious convictions! For the state to come forward now and criminalize our clergy is to deny AWAB and our community in North Carolina religious liberty. These laws prohibit the pursuit of our core principles with respect to being fully inclusive Baptist communities of faith, communities that extend to all people the rights and privileges of the church regardless of sexual or gender identity."
Rev. Nancy Petty, Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, speaks out about the lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s gay marriage ban on MSNBC.
Rev. Dr. Christopher Ayers said...
"At Wedgewood Church (an AWAB member congregation) in Charlotte, I am blessed to be the pastor of wonderful people, some of whom are sexual and gender minorities. Some have had to go out of state to receive a marriage license, others have chosen to wait until it is legal in NC to obtain their license. As a Baptist I also am blessed to be part of a long history that stresses freedom of religion. This lawsuit is designed to restore freedom of religion and equality of all people."
Read “North Carolina’s New Gay Marriage Lawsuit Could Turn ‘Everything On Its Head’” at the Huffington Post.
Rev. LeDayne McLeese Polaski, an ordained Baptist minister and Program Coordinator for the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America commented...
"The state cannot tell me whom I can baptize. The state cannot dictate to whom I serve communion. The state cannot tell me at whose funeral I can officiate. Why does the state feel it can tell me whose wedding I can bless?"
The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, whose membership spans 5 Baptist denominations, has dozens of clergy who are effected by the various state laws that criminalize clergy in this manner. It is on behalf of its 95 AWAB congregations - 8 of which are in North Carolina - as well as AWAB members such as Andover Newton Theological School, the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, and several counseling centers and LGBTQ ministries across the United States, that AWAB joins with the Alliance of Baptists, the United Church of Christ, the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the other plaintiffs to speak boldly on behalf of religious liberty in North Carolina and beyond.
- The General Synod of the United Church of Christ (UCC);
- Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR);
- Alliance of Baptists;
- Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists (AWAB);
- Rev. Nancy Ellett Allison, Ph.D, Holy Covenant United Church of Christ (Charlotte); Lisa Cloninger and Kathleen Smith, a couple of 12 years, who attend Holy Covenant UC;
- Rev. Amy Jacks Dean and Rev. Russ Dean, Park Road Baptist (Charlotte);
- Rev. Todd Donatelli, Rev. Milly Morrow, Rev. Thomas Murphy, All Souls Episcopal Cathedral (Asheville);
- Rabbi Ari Edery, Temple Beth Shalom (Cary);
- Rabbi Jonathan Freirich; Joel Blady and Jeff Addy, a couple who seeks to marry;
- Rev. Joe Hoffman, First Congregational United Church of Christ (Asheville); Diane Ansley and Cathy McGaughey, a couple of 14 years who attend FCUCC;
- Rev. Nathan King, Trinity United Church of Christ (Concord); Shauna Bragan and Stacy Malone, who attend Trinity UCC;
- Rev. Nancy Kraft, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (Charlotte); Cathy Fry and Joanne Marinaro, a couple of 28 years, who attend Holy Trinity;
- Rabbi Ari Margolis and Rabbi Lucy Dinner, Temple Beth Or (Raleigh);
- Rev. Nancy Petty, Pullen Memorial Baptist Church (Raleigh);
- Rabbi Eric Solomon, Beth Meyer Synagogue (Raleigh);
- Rev. Robin Tanner, Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church (Charlotte); and
- Rev. Mark Ward, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville; Carol Taylor and Betty Mack, a couple of 41 years, who attend UUC of Asheville.
The demand for LGBT persons to have the most basic of human rights has become personal, it is right, and it is about time! I feel privileged and honored to be able to stand up with a lifetime of LGBT friends and colleagues for what is right, knowing that this church (Myers Park Baptist Church) is right there with me.
Interim Senior Minister
Myers Park Baptist Church
Charlotte, North Carolina