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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

soundoff (342 Responses)
  1. Kay

    I agree with Ms. Moore! Good for her for leaving that church since it has abandoned Christ by its practices.

    Paul warns that homosexual behavior is one of the sins that will deprive one of heaven: "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 6:9–10, NIV)

    "For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct. . . . Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them" (Rom. 1:26–28, 32).

    August 11, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  2. Richard Penny

    I can just hear the 'children' of these 'parents' as they struggle thru life w/ 2 mommies or 2 daddies!

    August 11, 2010 at 7:50 am |
  3. Anonymous

    Giving a green light to any and all behavior not only creates anarchy but out of control brats. Order and discipline when most needed is a sign of love. I would rather a truthful rebuke of a friend over the Judas kiss of a (secret) enemy!

    August 9, 2010 at 10:32 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    Boydanb203 must have never heard of tough love. Love means to also experience pain. We discipline our kids so they will grow up to respect the law of the land and so they are not later locked up in Prisons for being out of control brats. That is not love to co-sign and give a green light to everything a person wants to do. It really create an out of control brats!

    August 9, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
  5. DD

    Plus get ready for them to ban the bible as hate speech! They forget other religions are for traditional marriage but when the find out it will be the end of Religious freedoms as we now know it.

    August 9, 2010 at 10:26 pm |
  6. DD

    These people want acceptance not marriage. They are not traditionalist as they would have us believe.
    I do not care what devil in hell or expert tells you different, kids need both a great mother and father to have their best life.
    You can live with one good eye but it will be a struggle and a hardship. The ideal is to have both if possible.

    August 9, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
  7. boydanb203

    She even said that she was discriminated in the 60's and she knows the pain and she still being a bigot, how can she sleep at night??? I though the word of Christ was to understand, love and respect each other!! I applaud the church that took the initiative to accept, understand and respect their brothers, that is what Christ meant, love each other!!!

    July 9, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  8. nancy

    It is sad what christianity has fallen to. I believe every human being should receive the same right(including gays) but having a gay marriage in the Lord`s house is certainly detastable to God.It is very hard to find a true christian these days. This why more and more people are becoming atheists and forming other religions. I certainly do not blame them because MOST pastors are hypocrites.The bible clearly says homosexuality is a sexual sin but the pastors choose to do otherwise. Christianity has definetly lost ALOT of respect from the rest of world.
    A true christian should love everyone(including gays) but he/she should also acknowledge that the act of homosexuality is against God`s ways and should be condemned.

    July 8, 2010 at 11:10 am |
    • Anonymous

      Were you privileged enough to have both a loving mother and good father in the home? Most married people want children and most of those children will suffer the willful loss of both a good mother and father by choice! Psychologist will tell you that most single parent households and fatherless or motherless children have more issues to overcome. It takes years to face the fact that this lost was like living without a limb. It can be done if necessary but why by choice? People that want a free for all society are selfish! What they want is to deny the majority their religious rights and do whatever their carnal natures tell them to do with no accountability. This goes for homo and hetero. We should read up on the fall of Rome which caved in after Homosexuality and moral decline took over their society. One group's rights results in the loss of another. Life is not fair but to destroy traditional marriage is plain wrong and will open the door to group marriage and all kinds of civil law suits for craziness!

      August 9, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
  9. Raymond Rushing

    Is she Southern Baptist or National Baptist? I've never seen a predominantly Black Southern Baptist congregation. This shocked me to see that she would be so defiant and openly prejudiced against fellow humans when she obviously lived in an era when it wasn't okay to be Black and a time when people used the Bible against being so. Furthermore, I ask the question of her denomination because I do not know for the life of me why any African American would be part of such a hateful group that calls themselves Christians.

    July 5, 2010 at 11:05 pm |
  10. DoubleFelix

    She sued her church because the church wasn't HATEFUL ENOUGH for her liking. Quite a concept.

    July 5, 2010 at 10:36 pm |
  11. Noble9

    The really funny thing about this is that the woman gave the church $250,000.

    July 3, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  12. Trollman

    Good For Her. A church that supports SIN. I don't think so.

    June 30, 2010 at 2:44 pm |
  13. Carol

    I can understand her leaving the church. But not getting her money back for all of the years when there was no problem with what was going on. Even in a marriage they don't go back to things before the marriage to make a spouse responsible for them.

    June 30, 2010 at 1:46 pm |
  14. christopher

    If a group, coming together with likeminded ideas, chooses to not allow a certain race/creed in thier privatley owned group, this should not be hindered. If a group, funded by the public, chooses not to allow a race/creed in thier group, this is illegal. As such, if the church did not want the gay marrage, they should have "fired" the preacher. By not doing so, they gave carte blanche to the preacher, who then allowed the ceremony.

    June 30, 2010 at 12:58 am |
  15. Damien

    JohnQuest, I never said that they shouldn't get married or adopt children or anything of that nature. What I said is, church is a sanctuary for those attending, if someone comes that disrupts their flow then its unfair to the people there before them. Hands down. What if some one visited your home and wanted to disrupt your values, change the perceptions of your family to something you disagree with, are you just gonna leave your family or tell that person they gotta go? What if someone walked into your place of worship with a leather mask and a ball in their mouth crawling with some mistress carrying a whip? You gonna slide over and let them sit beside you? I'm sure they shop and pay taxes too. But I'm sure you would say that's inappropriate, or excessive, but if they were in a place that everybody looked like that, they would be welcomed. See my point? Gay people if you want acceptance stop trying to force your PERSONAL sexual preference on those who do not share it. there's nothing in the constitution about ones sexual preference stop trying to rewrite it. This IS america, and you do have rights as people male-female, gay or straight, but you also have the right to distance yourself from what you don't believe in, what was done at that church was wrong. JohnQuest you seem to want to preach acceptance so accept the fact. If there ever is a law that forces church to integrate then get ready to have all your other rights manipulated too.

    June 28, 2010 at 8:54 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Damien, I stand corrected you did not say they should not get married, you stated that if a church collectively doesn't want a gay marriage or a gay couple or a black person or a single straight white male with brown hair, then the church is within it's right to reject these people (because the congregation only want straight white couples with blond hair and blue eyes). I would like to think that, that is not America, it use to be, those dark days of yesterday when it was a crime punishable by lynching for a for a black male to be seen with let alone marring a white female. The way we as a nation grew-up was to face it head on in courts, state house and especially the church, there is a history of social change starting at the grassroot level, women suffrage, civil rights for minorities (not all minorities gays are fighting for the right to get married or attend their local community church). I would never advocate different rules for different people I would like to see the same rules applied across the board for all. Open displays of overt sexual acts are illegal for everyone, however, marring the consenting adult that you want is not.

      June 29, 2010 at 11:12 am |
  16. leo

    it's just REALLY ironic how the church affects black folk and how they stick with it. first of all, gay people sticking with churches is just way crazy to me, they don't like you!!! second, black people sticking with churches is crazy, their ancestors sure weren't christians before the slave masters converted them. third, has it really bridged the gap between the society you want the fruits from that has alienated you? from what I can see, nowhere near as much as a good background in science has, and the two are at odds, hands down.

    June 28, 2010 at 1:50 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Leo, since the dawn of man, Africans has always been a very spiritual people. I don't know this with any certainty but I'd be willing to bet that all ideas of a deity and religions can be traced back to Africa in one way or the other. When the religion of their home land were denied them, Africans naturally adopted another one (the only spiritual outlet open to them at the time). On the surface religion give people a since of community, peace, and provides answers to question they don't want to ask, at it's core it can be harmful, instead of searching for answers it requires believers to accept the answers it provides no matter how improbable or self-destructive they may be. That said, religion should not be discounted, it has been around a lot longer than science and will probably be around long after science destroys most of the world (assuming anyone is left alive). I am not a believer in any type of deity at all but I do believe in the power of religion to hold a people together, unfortunately when a group a people get together their collective IQ drops to 6, and that causes problems such as genocides, holocaust, and the occupation of other peoples land, just to name a few.

      June 28, 2010 at 2:22 pm |
    • leo

      JohnQuest, good points. Remember, there is a LOT in common with the religion of the Egyptian empire and Christiantiy, and that probably lead to some similarities between what native Africans believed and what their captors believed.

      That said, 200 years later and no reflection has been done?

      June 28, 2010 at 2:30 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Leo, I would not agree 100% with what you said, I think there has been quite a bit of reflection (just not all good or completely acted upon). African and by extension African American believe that man is more than the sum of his/her parts, and not even science can explain on any level why we are conscious being, they have explained how the brain works (somewhat) but they can not tell you why you think you are you, (Id, self, soul, or whatever word you choose to use). And when or if science figures that out I don't think African or most other people will be willing to give up their "souls".

      June 28, 2010 at 2:45 pm |
    • leo

      Well, be fair Johnny, neither science nor religion has those answers. No one does, your making an argument that it's ok that religion answers those question because of how it can rally humans to do good. That is one positive, but I don't agree with spreading answers that aren't verified no matter what the issue is.

      earliest religion was people looking at the sun and making storeis about what the sun god does, that has been around forever but you don't see those stories being pumped all day do you? How is any other religion different?

      June 29, 2010 at 9:13 am |
  17. Damien

    The point is, if the Church as a whole doesn't agree, that ceremony should not have taken place. Church and state do not suppose to mix, so whatever law passed or what not does not give a Pastor the right to do something against the word they're suppose to preach. Some people call rejecting gays as being bigoted. Some say its wrong to reject them from our churches. But, its not a secret that churches are the one place that has and most likely will be segregated. Is it wrong? Maybe, but church is where like minds and spirits congregate. If you introduce something that disrupts ones personal views in a place that they freely pray then you've committed a wrong to them. If Gays want a church, start one! Blacks did. And what a lot of you are forgetting is that sexual preference is not a civil issue.Its a personal issue that some people think everybody has to accept when they don't. Personally, I think its a plague, natures way of keeping the population in control. Two men can't reproduce nor can two women, without help. Think about it. But on another note, being gay has also turned into a fad. I see so many young girls and guys claiming to be Bi. And guess what, gays don't like them.Some person posted that gays can hide, but they have to live in the closet ashamed. Ok, so you mean to tell me that every person that has some type of sexual fantasy that to the norm is abnormal, should where some type of badge? Or should be publicly voicing there bed room manners? Come on people! Stop being so righteous that you forget that some things should be kept personal. With that being said, no, being gay doesn't warrant civil rights any more than a fan of BDSM. But if a gay person does decide to keep they're choice "in the closet" that's where it should be. Show me a dark skin black person who can hide who they are. The only person that tried and almost succeeded was MJ and you saw how that turned out. People find a real issue. People are starving, dying, homeless, jobless! We got N.Korea arming up, insurgents trying to blow us up, cancers eating us alive, oil slicks! And we here talking about a bunch of people who want to put their private lives in Prime time. Wake up!

    June 28, 2010 at 3:19 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Damian, what is it about gay people that would cause you or anyone else to state an opposition to them getting married, (civil ceremony, or a church)? Perhaps you can explain to me how another couple (gay or otherwise) impacts your family? I agree we do have other issues to address but civil rights (like it or not gays are tax paying, school going, grocery shopping part of our society, just like you, me, and I'd guest everyone else you know that are U.S. citizens) are as important then as any of the others.

      June 28, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
  18. Eric G

    Sorry weaselgal, they must all still be at church................ or walmart.

    June 27, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
  19. ED

    John 3:16 KJV
    For God so love the world that he gave his only begotten son
    that who so ever believeth on him should not perish
    but have everlasting life.
    Oh ye sinners jesus loves you just repent.

    June 27, 2010 at 12:24 pm |
  20. Johnjon

    I guess she'd prefer them living in sin instead of making it legal before God.

    June 26, 2010 at 5:58 pm |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.