What we’re up to …

Nation’s most sweeping anti-LGBT law gets hearing in Federal Court

Last week, Judge Carlton W. Reeves of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi heard two legal challenges that argue the Mississippi law known as HB1523 is unconstitutional. The law is set to take effect on July 1.

HB1523 allows clerks to recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples based on their religious beliefs. But they must ensure licenses are provided. Attorney Roberta Kaplan with Campaign for Southern Equality says the statue violates the 1st Amendment separation of church and state.”

On June 23 and 24, Judge Reeves heard evidentiary hearings in two cases challenging the entirety of HB 1523 on First Amendment grounds. The full complaint in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant III can be read at: http://www.southernequality.org/new-complaint-hb-1523/

Lead counsel in this challenge is Roberta Kaplan of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, who is joined by attorney Allyson Mills of Fishman Haygood. Kaplan also filed the federal case that struck down Mississippi’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples in 2014, Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant, as well as the legal challenge that struck down Mississippi’s ban on same-sex adoption, Campaign for Southern Equality v. Mississippi Department of Human Services in 2016.

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The other case that was heard, Barber v. Bryant, was filed earlier this month by attorney Robert McDuff of McDuff & Byrd and the Mississippi Center for Justice. Plaintiffs in this case include a group of Mississippi clergy, community leaders from across the state, and a Hattiesburg-area church.

Judge Reeves has previously heard a legal challenge from the Campaign for Southern Equality, striking down Mississippi’s ban on same-sex marriage on November 25, 2014 in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant. The full 72-page order striking down Mississippi’s ban on same-sex marriage from Judge Reeves can be read here: http://bit.ly/1thJuaT.

Fighting back against HB2

This law is a blatant attack on the LGBT community – and it’s one of the worst anti-LGBT laws on the books in the country.

Check out this powerful op-ed from Ivy Gibson-Hill in the Mountain Xpress:

“Yes, these can be complex concepts. Yes, you’ll fumble over pronouns and make mistakes. Yes, it’s not always going to be comfortable. But we have a responsibility as a community to show up for each other and to speak up when someone is in danger.”

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All Gender Restroom Signs to Asheville Businesses

The Campaign for Southern Equality is partnering with Tranzmission to provide All-Gender Restroom signs to Asheville businesses, non-profits and faith communities that would like to show support for the LGB, and especially, the Transgender community.

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Thank you to the growing number of businesses and organizations in Asheville that have already pro-actively taken this step. Want a sign? Just email Ivy Hill (ivy[at]southernequality.org) with your name, organization/business name, phone number and organization/business address.

Western North Carolina Trans Support Line

North Carolina feels like a scary place for trans and LGB folks right now. We want to be sure everybody can easily access the resources they need in this time. That’s why we’re launching the Western North Carolina Trans Support Line. We’re offering help locating local support groups, mental health resources, attorneys, community events, trans health information, and peer counseling.

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Call (828) 237-1323 if you need support or help finding local trans friendly resources.

We are working to beat HB2, but more importantly we want to send a clear message to trans North Carolinians: you are not alone, and we have your back.

Legal Challenge Filed Against SB2, North Carolina “Magistrate Recusal” Law

Six plaintiffs have filed a federal lawsuit challenging Senate Bill 2, the North Carolina law passed in defiance of federal court orders that struck down Amendment One and declared that marriage is a fundamental right for gay and lesbian citizens.

Senate Bill 2 allows magistrates who do not believe in marriage equality to renounce their judicial oath to uphold and evenly apply the United States Constitution. The plaintiffs are represented by Tin Fulton Walker & Owen, a Charlotte-based law firm that led the legal challenge that struck down Amendment One, and by Meghann Burke, of Asheville-based firm Brazil & Burke.

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The Campaign for Southern Equality, along with Equality NC, is coordinating the public education campaign accompanying the case.

“This law distorts the true meaning of religious freedom. From the day it was proposed, it was clear that SB2 is about one thing and one thing only – finding a new way to discriminate against same-sex couples. We will keep standing up to discrimination until LGBT people are equal in every sphere of life,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality.

Based in Asheville, North Carolina, the Campaign for Southern Equality is a non-profit organization that advocates for the full equality of LGBT individuals and families across the South.