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North Carolina Religious Leaders Say Gay Marriage Ban Infringes On Their First Amendment Rights (VIDEO)

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The fight for marriage equality continues in North Carolina, but it's now being spearheaded by religious figures who say their First Amendment rights are being violated.

The United Church Of Christ filed a lawsuit in a Federal District Court saying that the law in North Carolina that criminalizes clergy members from officiating same-sex unions violates their First Amendment rights. Four of the 20 plaintiffs in the case joined HuffPost Live's Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani to discuss why they feel this is their obligation.

Rabbi Jonathan Freirich from North Carolina's Temple Beth El said that because religious leaders are legally able to chose who they marry, the state should extend the right to marry to same-sex couples.

"We don’t have to marry everyone who comes through our door," Freirich said. "Therefore, theoretically, if our religion demands, as I feel mine does, that we should be able to offer marriage to same-sex couples, then ... why should it therefore get in the way of my religious freedom to do that as well?"

There are thousands of benefits that are not offered to same-sex couples who can't marry. Reverend Nathan King of Trinity United Church, another plaintiff in the case, said this directly goes against the faith.

"We believe as a part of our faith that God loves everybody and people in our church deserve the same rights and privileges as everybody else, as do the ministers in our churches," King said.

This is the first time a national religious denomination has brought a case against a state's gay marriage laws.

Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation in the video below.

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