UCC, ONA Coalition petition Supreme Court on marriage equality
In pursuit of equal treatment for all couples under the law, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ and the Open and Affirming Coalition of the UCC have joined an interfaith effort of religious groups, organizations, and leaders in an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court. The UCC General Synod and the ONA Coalition are two of 20 participants “united in the belief that, in our vastly diverse and pluralistic society, particular religious views or definitions of marriage should not be permitted to influence which couples’ marriages the state recognizes or permits,” according to the brief filed late last week.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments for four cases from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on April 28.
The brief includes signatories from the UCC, ONA Coalition, Episcopal Church and Unitarian Universalist Association, as well as LGBT-supporting ministries from Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Jewish, Muslim and Quaker communities. In addition, more than 150 ordained UCC ministers from the wider church are among the 1,900 individual petitioners in favor of reversing the Sixth Circuit’s ruling that upheld marriage equality bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.
“Faiths embracing same-sex couples—both theologically and with respect to the distinct issue of equality under civil law—participate in the mainstream of American religious observance,” the brief reads.
The UCC and ONA Coalition also reminded the Supreme Court in the brief that the General Synod passed a resolution almost three decades ago in 1985, calling on the UCC congregations to become open and affirming of all persons regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The brief also points out that overturning same-gender marriage bans would not force any specific faith community to adhere to the ruling. “All religions would remain free—as they are today with  states and the District of Columbia permitting same-sex couples to marry—to define religious marriage in any way they choose,” the brief reads.
The Supreme Court announced in January that it would hear arguments on the four marriage equality cases. The Sixth Circuit ruled in November that the bans against same-gender marriages were constitutional, creating a split among the federal rulings. This circuit is the only appeals court to uphold state same-sex marriage bans since the Supreme Court in 2013 struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The Fourth, Seventh, Ninth and Tenth circuit courts all have ruled that same-sex marriage bans violate the U.S. Constitution.
The Supreme Court’s ruling on the issue is expected sometime in late June.
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