The State of North Carolina prevents same-sex couples from obtaining a marriage license and makes it a crime for ministers to officiate at a religious marriage ceremony without such a license.
In 2012, North Carolina voters approved Amendment One, which limits a domestic legal union to a covenant between a man and woman. Under state laws consistent with Amendment One, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor for a minister to perform a marriage ceremony for a couple that hasn't obtained a license, and such a license may not be issued to same-gender couples. A Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by up to 120 days in jail and/or probation and community service.
The United Church of Christ (UCC) is challenging the constitutionality of Amendment One. The UCC says the law limits ministers' choices, violates the principle of "free exercise of religion" upon which the church is built, and restricts the freedoms of religion and expressive association guaranteed in the First Amendment.
As a denomination of more than 5,100 churches and nearly 1 million members, the United Church has been a long-standing advocate for the equality of all of God's people, and in 2005, the UCC became the first mainline denomination to support same-sex marriage.
Please join us in protecting religious freedom. Tell the North Carolina legislature to repeal Amendment One.
Dear [Decision Maker],
I am writing to urge you to repeal Amendment One of the North Carolina Constitution.
In its efforts to restrict gay marriage, the State of North Carolina has also restricted one of the essential freedoms of ministers -- and of all Americans.
Under state laws consistent with Amendment One, it is illegal for a minister to perform a marriage ceremony for a couple that has not obtained a license; such a license may not be issued to same-gender couples.
In fact, a minister who wishes to perform a purely religious ceremony for a couple without a license is not free to do so because North Carolina law makes it a crime – even if the ceremony is not intended to be a legal marriage under state law. This restriction limits ministers' choices, violates the principle of "free exercise of religion" upon which the church is built and restricts the freedoms of religion and expressive association guaranteed in the First Amendment.
The United Church of Christ stands with its more than 400 clergy in the state of North Carolina (and more than 10,000 throughout the country), as well as more than one million members, and the hundreds of thousands same-gender couples from across America in protecting their religious freedom, one of the freedoms upon which this nation was founded.
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