Quakers from Piedmont Friends Fellowship meetings took note of the lawsuit filed in April, 2014 by the United Church of Christ (UCC) against the State of North Carolina with regard to State law making it illegal to marry a couple who, solely on account of their gender, can not obtain a marriage license. This lawsuit charges that such a legal prohibition unconstitutionally interferes with the exercise of religious freedom and is in violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution. When the PFF Representatives met in June, action was taken to support this lawsuit to add our voice as a public witness. The representatives approved the minute (below) and recommended that all PFF member meetings be offered the opportunity to specifically add their endorsement. Most all PFF meetings have now responded and have unanimously indicated enthusiastic support for this action.
However, in late July, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced that North Carolina, based on the verdict of the US District Court ruling on a Virginia case, would not further defend against lawsuits brought on behalf of same sex couples on the grounds of equal protection under the 14th Amendment. The Attorney General did not comment on the UCC lawsuit which is being brought as a First Amendment case. We are hoping that this lawsuit will be brought to trial so that this church-state issue can be specifically argued.
The PFF Minute approved in June is below.
John Hunter, Clerk, Piedmont Friends Fellowship
The Piedmont Friends Fellowship supports the principle of separation of church and state as presented in the lawsuit brought by the United Church of Christ against the State of North Carolina in April 2014. We note that in Western culture in general and specifically in the United States and North Carolina, the solemnization of marriage has been historically considered to be a function of religious communities. Quakers have a 360 year history of independently conducting marriages, and we are concerned with the intrusion into this practice by the recent legal requirements in North Carolina that place restrictions against freely doing so. We are concerned that current North Carolina law is unconstitutional in that it makes law breakers of priests, ministers, rabbis, pastors, and other church officials who as a matter religious principle wish to solemnize and support loving marriages in accordance with the accepted practices of their denominations. 06/10/2014