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Rabbis group joins N.C. same-sex marriage suit

The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) and the Alliance of Baptists have made it official that they are joining as plaintiffs in a Federal District Court lawsuit opposing North Carolina’s same-sex marriage ban.

The United Church of Christ filed the lawsuit in April, challenging North Carolina’s state ban on same sex marriage. The suit is said to be the nation’s first faith-based challenge to same-sex marriage bans.

As it stands, North Carolina law makes it illegal for rabbis, priests, ministers and other religious officials to solemnize the marriage of same-sex couples on an equal basis with opposite sex couples without fear of criminal prosecution and civil penalty.

United Church of Christ leaders claim North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage is a violation of freedom of religion. Additional plaintiffs include clergy from other faith traditions and same-sex couples in Charlotte, Asheville, Concord and Huntersville.

With more than 2,000 rabbis in the US, Canada and beyond, the CCAR is the largest Jewish rabbinic movement in North America and represents an estimated 1.5 million Jews worldwide.

“This precludes rabbis from participating in one of the fundamental aspects of our Jewish religious traditions with respect to a specific segment of their congregations and communities,” said Rabbi Steven Fox, Chief Executive of the CCAR, in a statement.

“Depriving rabbis of the freedom to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies in North Carolina stigmatizes our religious beliefs and relegates many of our congregants and community members to second-class status.”

The Alliance of Baptists sent out a statement Monday reporting its board had voted to join the suit. The alliance began in 1987 and is composed of male and female laity and clergy, people of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, theological beliefs and ministry practices.

“By the joining the lawsuit in North Carolina, we are living deeply into our Christian values and offering a clear, Baptist voice for justice and religious liberty,” Alliance President Mike Castle said in a statement.

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