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Quaker group stops certifying marriages until gay marriage legal

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A group of Twin Cities Quakers has decided to stop signing marriage certificates for opposite-sex couples until the state legalizes gay marriage.

"We're simply trying to be consistent with the will of God as we perceive it," said Paul Landskroener, clerk of the Twin Cities Friends Meeting, in an interview with MPR's All Things Considered on Monday. 

The congregation will continue to hold both opposite-sex and same-sex weddings at its meeting house, but will no longer sign the legal marriage certificate for opposite-sex couples. Instead, couples will need to have the certificate signed by a justice of the peace.

"Everything else proceeds as it normally has, except that we will not sign the marriage certificate," Landskroener said.

Unlike many churches, Quakers do not have ordained ministers. Couples are married by appearing before the congregation and speaking their vows to each other. Several witnesses then sign the marriage certificate to pronounce the couple legally married. 

The Twin Cities Friends Meeting reached its decision in November after three years of discussion. The group plans to revisit the decision in three years.

"The simplest way to say it is we feel very strongly and very clearly led that in the present time we simply cannot continue to participate in what we believe to be an unjust and inconsistent with our religious testimonies legal marriage procedure," Landskroener said.

The congregation is one of a handful of Quaker Meetings nationwide to decide to stop signing marriage certificates.