An unusual lawsuit in North Carolina is shifting the conversation about religious freedom -- and could be driving a wedge between some major opponents of same-sex marriage. Clergy from the United Church of Christ, a liberal denomination that voted to support gay weddings in its churches in , filed suit in a North Carolina district court Monday, becoming the latest in a nationwide series of cases against a state's same-sex marriage ban. Like dozens of similar lawsuits filed across the country, the North Carolina suit argues that the state's ban violates gay couples' constitutional right to equal protection. But in a unique twist, the suit adds that the ban also violates the First Amendment right of members of the clergy to practice their faith -- because the state's ban criminalizes pastors who bless same-sex unions, leaving clergy open to arrest. Legal experts say that North Carolina's criminalization of clergy for blessing a same-sex union is unique and not typically found in other states where same-sex marriage is banned.
North Carolina GOP Trying to Ban Gay Marriage Twice
North Carolina's New Gay Marriage Lawsuit Could Turn 'Everything On Its Head' | HuffPost
Both parties must intend to marry, must not be currently married to anyone else, and must be able to understand their actions. Both parties must be at least 18 years old, unless specific requirements for minors are met. The parties cannot be more closely related than first cousins, and cannot be double first cousins for instance, the children of two sisters who married two brothers. The couple must get a marriage license before their wedding. Minors ages 14 and 15 must file a court action if they wish to marry.
PD-14-3 Same-Sex Marriage and Filing Status
Voters in North Carolina have approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage solely as a union between one man and one woman, in a defeat for gay rights advocates. It will become the 30th state in the union to enshrine a ban on same-sex marriage in its state constitution. Same-sex marriage has been illegal in NC for 16 years but can now only be legalised by another vote by the people. The amendment declares that "marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognised in this state". North Carolina was one of several state elections to be closely monitored by a wider audience on Tuesday.
Please don't hesitate to call us if you have any questions! The applicability of federal law in a country where each state is its own sovereign can cause some complexity for issues such as same-sex marriage. Marriage is under the ambit of state law, however, where the federal law interprets state law as a violation of constitutional rights, states must yield to the federal interpretation of the law. Same-sex couples seeking to marry have to gain a clear understanding of the marriage laws governing their jurisdiction. North Carolina is an example of a state where some complexity exists.