Two UCC ministers seek gay marriage rights in Washington State
April 2004

Two openly-gay UCC ministers, who have been in a committed relationship for 18 years and were married in a church in 1994, are one of six same-gender couples who have become plaintiffs in a Washington State lawsuit challenging the state's ban on gay marriage.

The Revs. Dave Shull and Peter Ilgenfritz, members of the clergy team at University Congregational UCC in Seattle, have joined a lawsuit against King County seeking to overturn Washington's 1998 Defense of Marriage Act, charging that it violates the equal protection clause of the state's constitution.

The suit, filed in March by the Northwest Women's Law Center and the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, has generated significant attention by Seattle and national media.

"There's that continuing sense of being less than," Shull told the Seattle Times. "Our commitment, our relationship, is not seen as being as good, as being as sacred, as being as holy. There's that second-class citizenship that is always present."

Leslie Christian, a member of Plymouth UCC in Seattle, is also one of the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit's filing corresponds with the signing of an executive order by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels calling for city benefits to be offered to same-gender couples who are granted marriage licenses in other states.

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