General Synod of the UCC v. Reisinger

Current Status: Same-sex couples can marry in North Carolina! On October 10, 2014 United States District Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. ruled in this case, striking down Amendment One and granting LGBT couples in North Carolina the freedom to marry and clergy the freedom to perform these marriages. Same-sex couples in Buncombe and Wake Counties began marrying shortly after the ruling, many having spent days waiting at their local Register of Deeds office for a ruling. Within days, same-sex couples could marry in all 100 counties across NC.

Background: 

Case Name: General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Reisinger

Date Filed: April 28, 2014

Plaintiffs:

  • The General Synod of the United Church of Christ
  • Alliance of Baptists
  • Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists;
  • Central Conference of American Rabbis
  • Clergy from All Souls Episcopal Cathedral in Asheville, N.C. – the Very Reverend Todd Donatelli, Reverend Canon Thomas Murphy, Reverend Milly Morrow;
  • Rev. Amy Jacks Dean, Park Road Baptist Church (Charlotte);
  • Rev. Russ Dean, Park Road Baptist Church (Charlotte);
  • Rabbi Lucy H.F. Dinner, Temple Beth Or (Raleigh);
  • Rabbi Ariel Edery, Beth Shalom (Raleigh);
  • Rev. Nancy Ellett Allison, Ph.D, Holy Covenant United Church of Christ (Charlotte); Lisa Cloninger and Kathleen Smith, a couple of 12 years, who attend Holy Covenant UCC;
  • Rabbi Jonathan Freirich; Joel Blady & Jeff Addy, who seek to marry;
  • Rev. Joe Hoffman, First Congregational United Church of Christ (Asheville); Diane Ansley and Cathy McGaughey, a couple of 14 years who attend FCUCC;
  • Rev. Nathan King, Trinity United Church of Christ (Concord); Shauna Bragan and Stacy Malone, who attend Trinity UCC;
  • Rev. Nancy Kraft, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (Charlotte); Cathy Fry and Joanne Marinaro, a couple of 28 years, who attend Holy Trinity;
  • Rabbi Ari Margolis, Temple Beth Or (Raleigh);
  • Rev. Nancy Petty, Pullen Memorial Baptist Church (Raleigh);
  • Rabbi Eric Solomon, Beth Meyer Synagogue (Raleigh).
  • Rev. Robin Tanner, Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church (Charlotte); 
  • Rev. Mark Ward, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville; Carol Taylor and Betty Mack, a couple of 41 years, who attend UUC of Asheville;

Legal Team:  The plaintiffs were represented by the law firms of Tin Fulton Walker & Owen and Arnold & Porter LLP.

OverviewOn April 28th, 2014, General Synod of the United Church of Christ vs. Cooper was filed in the Western District of North Carolina on behalf of the United Church of Christ (UCC) as a national denomination, clergy from across faith traditions, and same-sex couples. In June 2014, additional denominations and clergy were added as plaintiffs, reflects growing support for marriage equality across faith traditions in the United States. The case challenged the constitutionality of marriage laws in North Carolina – including Amendment One – that ban marriage between same-sex couples and make it illegal for clergy to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples within their congregations. This case opened a new front in marriage equality litigation: it is the only case to bring 1st Amendment religious freedom claims among the more than 70 marriage equality cases pending in courts nationally. On October 10, 2014 United States District Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. ruled in this case, striking down Amendment One and granting LGBT couples in North Carolina the freedom to marry and clergy the freedom to perform these marriages.

Key Documents:
October 14, 2014: Judge Cogburn’s ruling: http://bit.ly/2o9Eee7
April 24, 2014: UCC v. Reisinger Complaint: http://bit.ly/2ob8XXk