Today, Monday, April 28, 2014, the United Church of Christ again makes history as the first mainline denomination to legally challenge – on First Amendment grounds – North Carolina marriage laws prohibiting same-sex marriage. In the video statement below, UCC General Minister and President, Geoffrey Black explains that the UCC lawsuit is about more than “restrictions placed on ministers” performing same-sex marriages (restrictions that carry criminal penalties), but that it is about “safeguarding Americans’ First Amendment rights to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference.”
The United Church of Christ has a long history of public engagement and has been influential in the evolution of religion and political history in the United States. In 1785, the Congregationalists (one of the four Christian traditions that formed the UCC in 1957) ordained the first African American to serve an all-white congregation. In 1853, the Christian Church (another founding tradition) ordained the first woman to serve as a pastor in a Christian congregation. And in 1972, we ordained the first openly gay minister in a mainline denomination. That tradition of boldness continues today with the lawsuit filed by the United Church of Christ in the U.S. District Court in Charlotte, North Carolina.