A Christian church group has sued to overturn North Carolina’s ban on gay marriage, saying that the ban infringes on its First Amendment rights of religious freedom.
BuzzFeed reported that the lawyers representing the United Church of Christ leadership say theirs is the first case challenging a same-sex marriage ban that uses the religious freedom argument. It also cites an ‘equal protection’ argument under the 14th Amendment.
“This lawsuit introduces a First Amendment claim that the marriage ban in North Carolina violates the right to the free exercise of religious beliefs by denominations, clergy, and congregants who believe that same-sex marriages are theologically valid and want to perform marriage ceremonies,” said Jake Sussman, one of the lead lawyers.
The United Church of Christ has 150 congregations in North Carolina, according to BuzzFeed. Six same-sex couples, which are members of those churches, are also plaintiffs in the case.
The lawsuit was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Western Division of North Carolina.