A United Methodist Church in North Carolina is taking a dramatic stand on the issue of marriage equality by announcing the immediate cessation of all its marriage-related services until the right to marry is granted to all couples, including ones of the same sex.
"North Carolina prohibits same sex marriage and all the rights and privileges marriage brings," the Green Street United Methodist Church said in a statement released through Equality NC. "The Leadership Council has asked that their ministers join others who refuse to sign any State marriage licenses until this right is granted to same sex couples."
The Council's request that its senior pastor, Kelly Carpenter, "refrain from conducting wedding ceremonies" for straight couples is unlikely to be met with resistance, as the pastor told WXII News he believes all congregants should be allowed to "share a sense of the love that they have found."
In lieu of marriages, the church plans to hold "relationship blessings" until such time as the right to marry is recognized by both the denomination and the state.
While other UMCs have taken a similar stance, the Green Street UMC is believed to be the first southern Methodist church to do so.
The battle is certain to be an uphill one: Though a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 58 percent of all Americans believe same-sex marriage should be legal, North Carolina voters just last year overwhelmingly (61%) approved a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman alone.