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Thread: United Church of Christ sues over NC ban on same-sex marriage

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    Re: Religious Group Files a Lawsuit Against North Carolina's Gay Marriage Ban

    Quote Originally Posted by WorldWatcher View Post
    Then the lawsuit brought by the Church should have made a claim about being able to perform a man-woman Religious Marriage without a Civil License being issues. That would be a valid claim that the law is infringing on their ability to perform a religious ceremony without government intervention.

    However the law does not prevent them from performing a Religious Marriage for a same-sex couple so the law in fact does not limit their ability to perform that ceremony.
    Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see that in the law. Where does it say they can perform "Religious marriages?" It says religious officials can confirm non-binding confirmation ceremonies, but the rules are clear these are only OK if the license was already issued by a civil authority. SSM licenses can't be obtained in NC, so even these symbolic ceremonies are illegal for SS couples.

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    Re: Religious Group Files a Lawsuit Against North Carolina's Gay Marriage Ban

    Quote Originally Posted by JasperL View Post
    Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see that in the law. Where does it say they can perform "Religious marriages?" It says religious officials can confirm non-binding confirmation ceremonies, but the rules are clear these are only OK if the license was already issued by a civil authority. SSM licenses can't be obtained in NC, so even these symbolic ceremonies are illegal for SS couples.

    51-6. Solemnization without license unlawful.

    No minister, officer, or any other person authorized to solemnize a marriage under the laws of this State shall perform a ceremony of marriage between a man and woman, or shall declare them to be husband and wife, until there is delivered to that person a license for the marriage of the said persons, signed by the register of deeds of the county in which the marriage license was issued or by a lawful deputy or assistant. There must be at least two witnesses to the marriage ceremony.


    Since same-sex ceremonies involve a man and a man or a woman and a woman, such ceremonies are not in violation of the law because they are not man and a woman ceremonies.



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    Re: Religious Group Files a Lawsuit Against North Carolina's Gay Marriage Ban

    Quote Originally Posted by WorldWatcher View Post
    Already did. 51-6 is the section of the law that defines the illegal action. 51-7 is the penalty for violating 51-6. To violate 51-6 it must be a minister marrying a man and a woman.

    If they perform a Religious Marriage without a Civil License for a man and a man or a woman and a woman, they haven't violated 51-6 so the penalty described under 51-7 does not apply.
    But 51-7 says, "any couple." A man and a man is a "couple."

    You might be right, but it's far from clear to me that the argument you're making is a slam dunk, the parties suing have spent more than 10 minutes reviewing the law and its history. But if you're right, and the lawyers for the plaintiffs missing something this easy, then the courts will have an easy time with it. We'll see I guess.

    BTW, are you capitalizing "Religious Marriage" as a term of art that I'm not aware of, or just to highlight what kind of ceremony you're referring to? If it's a term of art, where are "Religious Marriages" addressed in the NC code?
    Last edited by JasperL; 04-30-14 at 05:55 PM.

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    Re: Religious Group Files a Lawsuit Against North Carolina's Gay Marriage Ban

    Quote Originally Posted by JasperL View Post
    But 51-7 says, "any couple." A man and a man is a "couple."
    51-7 is the penalty for violating 51-6. If intended to stand alone, then 51-6 is redundant. If you look at other common statutes you will find one section of the law defines what is illegal and another provision defines the penalty.

    Quote Originally Posted by JasperL View Post
    You might be right, but it's far from clear to me that the argument you're making is a slam dunk, the parties suing have spent more than 10 minutes reviewing the law and its history. But if you're right, and the lawyers for the plaintiffs missing something this easy, then the courts will have an easy time with it. We'll see I guess.
    I'm just noting the plan language of the law.

    Quote Originally Posted by JasperL View Post
    BTW, are you capitalizing "Religious Marriage" as a term of art that I'm not aware of, or just to highlight what kind of ceremony you're referring to? If it's a term of art, where are "Religious Marriages" addressed in the NC code?

    I specifically use "Civil Marriage" and "Religious Marriage" to distinguish two completely different things. Religious Marriage is a ceremony conducted by a house of worship or a member of the clergy for such a house. A couple can have a Religious Marriage without a civil component and it is valid in the eyes of the couple and in the eyes of that religious organization. Civil Marriage on the other hand is that entered into as a function of secular law. A couple can have a Civil Marriage without a religious component and it is valid in the eyes of the law but may no comport with religious doctrine of various religious institutions.

    Since we are talking about North Carolina law, there is need to discriminate between religious ceremony and secular law.


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    Re: Religious Group Files a Lawsuit Against North Carolina's Gay Marriage Ban

    Quote Originally Posted by Amandi View Post
    No, telling a church they cant do something that is purely religious inside their church is against the First Ammendment.
    They're not telling the church they can't do it. They're telling everyone who officiates marriages they can't do it. The church isn't being singled out. If an atheist group so authorized to officiate weddings wanted to give a ceremony to a gay couple, that atheist group couldn't do it either, and for the same reasons under the same law.

    All a person or group has to do is drop their authority to officiate a marriage and then they can do whatever they want.

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    Re: Religious Group Files a Lawsuit Against North Carolina's Gay Marriage Ban

    Quote Originally Posted by WorldWatcher View Post
    51-7 is the penalty for violating 51-6. If intended to stand alone, then 51-6 is redundant. If you look at other common statutes you will find one section of the law defines what is illegal and another provision defines the penalty.
    Right, I read tax law all the time. The thing is a mess IMO, which is why I'm not convinced the answer is clear cut. I read an article (unrelated it turns out) that points out the statute that describes the requirements for a valid marriage doesn't list a requirement for a license. That's in another section, and only made a requirement because it's illegal to have the ceremony without a license.

    51-6 refers to the "man and woman" "husband and wife" "man and woman," says when it's OK to do a non-binding ceremony (after the couple gets a civil license). And 51-7 refers to a fine for anyone who "marries" "any couple" but fails to get a license. So is a non-binding church/religious ceremony a 'marriage?" Seems like it would be for a traditional couple, but NOT a SS couple, even though the statute says "any couple?"

    I guess it doesn't matter much - this is obviously a suit to make a point, not to clarify or change any significant point of law. I'm all for churches standing up and saying that not ALL of them oppose SSM. If this makes that happen, OK - wouldn't even be the dumbest Federal lawsuit filed this week.

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    Re: United Church of Christ sues over NC ban on same-sex marriage

    Quote Originally Posted by danarhea View Post
    Very interesting lawsuit. So the question is this? If the United Church of Christ, which supports gay marriage, is not allowed to perform gay marriages, then are their first amendment religious freedoms being violated? They have certainly opened up a can of worms with this lawsuit.

    Discussion?

    Article is here - United Church of Christ sues over NC ban on same-sex marriage.

    Note to mods - Title would not fit, so I had to take a couple of words out to make it fit.

    Second note to mods. The source changed the title, so now it doesn't match at all. LOL.
    The state has the right to control the issuances of marriage licenses.

    The ceremonies themselves are entirely up to the church. If the state really is threatening the priests with a misdemeanor strictly for performing the ceremonies, then it has indeed stepped way outside its' bounds.

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    Re: Religious Group Files a Lawsuit Against North Carolina's Gay Marriage Ban

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry View Post
    They're not telling the church they can't do it. They're telling everyone who officiates marriages they can't do it. The church isn't being singled out. If an atheist group so authorized to officiate weddings wanted to give a ceremony to a gay couple, that atheist group couldn't do it either, and for the same reasons under the same law.

    All a person or group has to do is drop their authority to officiate a marriage and then they can do whatever they want.
    Bad precedent. Flip it, for example.

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    Re: Religious Group Files a Lawsuit Against North Carolina's Gay Marriage Ban

    Quote Originally Posted by Paleocon View Post
    If a person presides over a marriage which is plainly invalid by law, they should be punished. UCC ministers (who aren't priests, BTW) are not above the law.
    so you would be comfortable with outlawing full-immersion baptisms? Children have drowned in the Baptismal pools.....public health issue. Join me in banning it.

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    Re: Religious Group Files a Lawsuit Against North Carolina's Gay Marriage Ban

    Quote Originally Posted by Sababa View Post
    so you would be comfortable with outlawing full-immersion baptisms? Children have drowned in the Baptismal pools.....public health issue. Join me in banning it.
    The dangers of the practice in general are minimal. Now if a specific minister acts with objective negligence, then he should be charged accordingly.

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