Clergy for United Church of Christ congregation refusing to sign hetero marriage licenses
CLEVELAND — Clergy at a church are protesting Ohio’s ban on gay marriage by refusing to sign state marriage licenses for heterosexual couples.
The Rev. John Tamilio III, head pastor at Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ, said the move is a civil-rights protest. Ministers won’t sign the licenses until gay unions are legal in Ohio.
Ohio voters approved a gay marriage ban in 2004.
Heterosexual couples exchanging wedding vows at Pilgrim Congregational will need an additional civil ceremony by a justice of the peace or a judge to make their union legal. The church has about 460 members.
The United Church of Christ, a 1.2 million member denomination headquartered in Cleveland, adopted a resolution supporting gay marriage at a national synod in Atlanta three years ago.
Greg Brekke, a spokesman for the national church, said each of the denomination’s 5,600 congregations is free to choose whether to sign marriage licenses.
The church says at least five other UCC congregations — three in the Minneapolis area, one in Oregon and one in North Carolina — have undertaken similar marriage protests.
In a different denomination, dozens of Unitarian Universalist ministers across the country, including those in Arkansas, California and Massachusetts, also have declined to sign state marriage licenses for the same reason.
That included Rev. William Sinkford, the Boston-based president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, who refused to sign state licenses until May 2004 when Massachusetts legalized gay marriages.
Information from: The Plain Dealer, http://www.cleveland.com