In 2012, North Carolina conservatives passed a referendum against same-sex marriage. Republicans supported the referendum on the grounds that it protected freedom of religion.
what eye thynk: The United Church of Christ's case has turned the state's anti-gay marriage argument on its ear, claiming that the bill does not, in fact, protect the freedom to practice their faith but "represents an unlawful government intervention into the internal structure and practice of plaintiffs' religion."
Donald C. Clark Jr., general counsel for the Church explained, "We didn't bring this lawsuit to make others conform to our beliefs, but to vindicate the right of all faiths to freely exercise their religious practices."
The UCC ordained its first openly-gay pastor in 1972, and has recognized and supported same-sex marriage since 2005. By requiring a state approved marriage license (and denying such licenses to same-sex couples), the church claims that the state is obstructing its right to practice its beliefs and the ban should be declared unconstitutional.
Earlier this year, North Carolina Republican legislators, led by Representatives Carl Ford (R) and Harry Warren (R), proposed the creation of an official state religion. The proposed bill declared that North Carolina was exempt from the U.S. Constitution on this issue. This is the same state whose state constitution makes it illegal for anyone who does not believe in God to hold public office. (The Supreme Court overturned this in a 1961 ruling, but North Carolina never removed the provision.)
Roy Cooper (D), North Carolina's Attorney General will argue against the UCC albeit reluctantly. Mr. Cooper said that, by virtue of the office he has held since 2001, he must defend all state laws, even those he believes should be lifted. "In their zeal (to deny) the freedom to marry, North Carolina...put in place a measure that assaulted the religious freedom that they profess to support."
Finally, someone is willing to stand up and say that freedom of religion is the right of ALL denominations--that conservative churches do not hold exclusive title to the First Amendment.
This will be one very interesting case to follow.