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June 24th, 2010
09:27 AM ET

Woman sues church over gay marriage

Years before the nation's capital legalized same-sex marriage in March, one church in Washington, D.C., opened its doors to gay couples as part of its mission to establish an "inclusive body of Biblical believers."

Pastors Christine and Dennis Wiley performed a 2007 commitment ceremony at their altar.  That action split the historically black church, prompting half of the congregation to leave.

Yvonne Moore not only left Covenant Baptist, where she had worshipped for nearly 40 years: she filed a lawsuit for her weekly tithes because, as she said, "They didn't respect the members enough to listen to us."

Moore said she attended the 2007 commitment ceremony and found it "totally disgusting."

"I don't believe in that, I'm southern Baptist," Moore told CNN's Soledad O'Brien.  "The bible speaks against that. You cannot take that in the church."

So she sued the church for a portion of the estimated $250,000 that she estimates she had paid in weekly donations over the past 37 years.

Read how race and ethnicity can be a challenge to gay acceptance

Moore's now former pastors believe that gay rights are a natural extension of the black Civil Rights movement.

"I don't think we as a people have a lock on civil rights," Pastor Dennis Wiley said.

The struggle for civil rights is something that Moore can relate to:  Growing up in Florida, she said she was one of the first blacks to eat at a lunch counter in her hometown.

But she is still on the fence about comparing her situation, as an African-American, to that of the gay community.  She said Dennis Wiley asked her to consider the situation of her friend, who is gay.

"Dennis asked me ... 'How do you feel the way you were treated and just think about the way he was treated.'  And I was like, 'Oh, OK,'" Moore said.

She later dropped her lawsuit, but has not returned to the church.

Editor's note:  CNN's Soledad O'Brien follows a same-sex couple in their struggle against the legal and personal obstacles to become parents. Can these men achieve a life as mainstream as their parents? Watch "Gary and Tony Have a Baby," 8 p.m. ET Thursday.

- CNN.com Senior Producer

Filed under: Baptist • Belief • Gay marriage

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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.