Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Claiming NC Marriage Laws Violate Religious Rights

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) -- A state judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging North Carolina's marriage license laws as a violation of religious liberties.

The News & Record of Greensboro reports Superior Court Judge Judson DeRamus issued his ruling Friday. The 11 plaintiffs -- local ministers, area residents and Guilford County register of deeds Jeff Thigpen -- say they will appeal the decision to the state Court of Appeals.

The lawsuit was filed in December in Guilford County Superior Court. It asserts that no compelling reason exists for the state to require religious leaders or court magistrates to perform ceremonial marriages or for the state to require registration.

It also says prohibiting religious leaders from solemnizing marriages of same-sex couples violates the U.S. Constitution and the principle of separation of church and state.

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