Up there in North Carolina, where the state legislature is trying to write discrimination into the state constitution banning marriage equality, the full congregation of Raleigh's Pullen Memorial Baptist Church voted this past Sunday to prohibit the church pastor from legally marrying anyone until she can legally marry same-sex couples under North Carolina law.
A Baptist church. And the vote was unanimous.
The congregants said in a formal statement: "As people of faith, affirming the Christian teaching that before God all people are equal, we will no longer participate in this discrimination." the church's statement says.
It all began last summer when church pastor, Nancy Petty--who is openly gay--began a discussion on same-sex marriages, telling the congregation that by signing marriage certificates to wed heterosexual couples and not be able to do so for homosexual couples, was a burden on her conscience.
And, rather than turning on her, ousting her from the pulpit, or getting the tar and feathers out, the congregation continued to simply discuss the issue, until they reached an agreement on last Sunday's statement against discrimination. The declaration was written by church deacons and then affirmed by the congregation.
Now that doesn't mean you can't get married at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church. No, in fact, marriage ceremonies will still be conducted, but they will be holy unions that "reflect the spiritual nature of the solemn commitments between two people in a loving relationship." The pastor won't sign the marriage certificate that the state requires to establish a legal marriage. Folks will have to have a civil marriage for that.
And isn't this how it should be? If marriage is a legal institution, and, let's face it, it is, then the churches should stay out of legalizing said unions. Oh, they can still have the ceremonies for folks who want that "married in the eyes of God" thing going for them, but no one, no one, is married until they obtain a legal certificate of marriage from the state.
I hate to say it, though it's true, but I never thought I'd see a Baptists church, in the Carolinas, stand up, en masse, stand up for marriage equality.