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LGBT* In The South conference set for April 17 & 18, 2015 in Asheville, North Carolina

Our annual LGBT* In The South conference will bring together organizers and professional working toward equality from across the South for a weekend of networking and collaboration. Learn how to attend, present or sponsor the conference at

Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights

(Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights speaking at the 2014 LGBT* In The South conference. )

NC Marriage Equality Update:  State of NC Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Rule

On Friday, December 12, 2014, the state of North Carolina indicated that it will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in a case that struck down the state’s marriage ban, General Synod of the UCC v . Tillis.  This is the latest development in the case that struck down Amendment One on October 10, 2014. Same-sex couples began marrying in North Carolina that day and continue to. Led by Senator Elect Tillis, the state has appealed this ruling – first to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, now to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Jake Sussman, lead counsel for plaintiffs in General Synod of the UCC v. Tillis, responded to this development:

“Marriage equality is the law of the Fourth Circuit under the Bostic decision and has been in effect in North Carolina since October 10. The Supreme Court was previously asked to review Bostic and other courts of appeals decisions reaching the same conclusion, and declined to do so. The Supreme Court has shown no interest in reviewing these decisions upholding marriage equality.”

Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara of the Campaign for Southern Equality also responded:

“Two federal judges in four separate cases in North Carolina have ruled that loving, committed same-sex couples, like the plaintiffs in these cases, have the freedom to marry under the U.S. Constitution. This is the law of the land and we are confident that this fundamental right will be affirmed by every court that considers it.”

Read more at ScotusBlog:

Fifth Circuit Will Hear Legal Challenge That Struck Down Mississippi Marriage Ban on January 9.

“We are very pleased that the United State Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has agreed to expedite the appeal of Judge Reeves’ ruling,” says Roberta Kaplan, lead counsel in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant.

Kaplan adds, “Our clients and other gay couples throughout Mississippi are of course disappointed that the Fifth Circuit extended the stay of Judge Reeves’ ruling. However, we are confident that the Fifth Circuit will affirm Judge Reeves’ opinion so that marriages can begin in Mississippi as soon as possible.”

Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant will be heard by the same Fifth Circuit panel of judges as the De Leon and Robicheaux cases from Texas and Louisiana, respectively.

Learn more about the case.

Mississippi marriage ban struck down!

On November 25, U.S. District Court Judge Carlton W. Reeves issued a ruling in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant, striking down Mississippi’s ban on same-sex marriage!


The full order from Judge Reeves can be read here:

Roberta Kaplan is the lead counsel in this case. Kaplan was also lead counsel in United States v. Windsor, the landmark case that struck down sections of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Plaintiffs are also represented by Mississippi attorney Robert McDuff of McDuff & Byrd, based in Jackson, Mississippi and Dale Carpenter, the Earl R. Larson Professor of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law at the University of Minnesota Law School.

Flanked by plaintiff couples, lead attorney Roberta Kaplan speaks at a press conference after the November 12 hearing in the federal lawsuit challenging Mississippi's same-sex marriage ban.

(Lead attorney Roberta Kaplan speaks at a press conference after the November 12 hearing flanked by the plaintiff couples.)

“As soon as marriages begin, gay Mississippi families will be able to conduct their lives knowing that a safety net of legal protections surrounds them, and knowing that their fundamental dignity has been affirmed by their home state,” said Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality.


“My family is no less a family than any other,” said plaintiff Rebecca Bickett, who has been with her partner, Andrea Sanders, for ten years. The women are mothers to young twin sons. Like many other LGBT families in the state, they have not been able to afford the expenses required to travel out of Misissippi to wed.

Read more about Andrea and Becky.

“It’s time we are able to live with legal protections in our home state,” said plaintiff Jocelyn Pritchett. “We love Mississippi – it is home for us and we have many beautiful friends and family members here. We hope to help create a Mississippi that reflects the hospitality of her people – by creating a legally safe environment for all Mississippi families.”

Read more about Carla and Joce.

Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant was filed on October 20 in the Southern District of Mississippi on behalf of two same-sex couples, – Andrea Sanders and Rebecca Bickett, and Jocelyn Pritchett and Carla Webb – and the Campaign for Southern Equality. CSE has been advocating for LGBT equality across Mississippi since 2012 through a series of public actions and is coordinating the public education campaign accompanying the lawsuit.

Amendment One Struck Down in North Carolina

On Friday, October 10 United States District Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. struck down Amendment One, granting LGBT couples in North Carolina the freedom to marry.

First license

(Amy and Laruen receive the first marriage license granted to an LGBT couple in North Carolina.)

“LGBT families in North Carolina will now be treated as equal under the law in North Carolina –  a day that so many have fought so hard for. For two years too long Amendment One was on the the books, but now we celebrate knowing that this shameful chapter in North Carolina’s history has passed. At the same time we know that you can still be fired simply for being gay in North Carolina. Protection from discrimination in the workplace is the next step in our push for full equality,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality.

General Synod of the UCC v. Reisinger is the case that won marriage equality in North Carolina and CSE is honored to be part of the team behind this case.

The Campaign for Southern Equality mobilizes people all across the South – from the Gulf Coast of Mississippi to the Piedmont of North Carolina – to stand up and tell our country a new story about the urgent need for full LGBT equality in all spheres of life – employment, housing, health care, family rights and marriage.