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 Asheville non-profits and attorneys join together to offer free legal clinic at Blue Ridge Pride

The Campaign for Southern Equality, Pisgah Legal Services, Gender Benders and Walton Law Office are co-sponsoring a free legal clinic at Blue Ridge Pride on Saturday, October 3rd from noon to 5 p.m.

The legal clinic will offer a broad array of legal info and resources that includes:

  • Guidance on Affordable Care Act enrollment and information for the LGBT community regarding health care coverage;
  • Information guides and medical resources created specifically for the Transgender community;
  • Name change and gender change documents will be available through the Campaign for Southern Equality’s LGBT Rights Toolkit;
  • Individuals will be able to complete a Health Care Power of Attorney on site for free with the assistance of attorneys and notaries.
<i>(Join us at Blue Ridge Pride on October 3rd!)</i>

(Asheville city hall decked out with a Pride flag!)

Federal Judge to Hear Legal Challenge to Mississippi Adoption Ban on November 6

Judge Daniel Porter Jordan III has set a hearing date for November 6 at 1 p.m. in federal court. Argument on both the motion for a preliminary injunction and on the defendants’ motion to dismiss will be heard.

A federal lawsuit was filed on August 12 challenging the constitutionality of Mississippi’s law banning adoption by same-sex couples. Mississippi is the only state left in the nation that bans gay couples from adopting without regard for their qualifications as parents or the best interests of the child.


The case, Campaign for Southern Equality v. Mississippi Department of Human Services, was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi on behalf of four same-sex couples: Kari Lunsford and Tinora Sweeten-Lunsford, who are seeking to adopt a child; Brittany Rowell and Jessica Harbuck, also seeking to adopt; Donna Phillips and Janet Smith, parents to a young daughter; and Kathryn Garner and Susan Hrostowski, who have a 15-year-old son.

Two organizations — the Campaign for Southern Equality and Family Equality Council — join the case as plaintiffs representing the LGBT families across Mississippi.

Read coverage of the lawsuit by the New York Times.

Preliminary Injunction Filed in Lawsuit Seeking to Immediate Relief From Mississippi Adoption Ban 

The Plaintiffs who filed the motion, Donna Phillips and Janet Smith & Kathy Garner and Susan Hrostowski, are among the “many same-sex couples” who the Supreme Court recently recognized “provide loving and nurturing homes to their children.” But because of the Mississippi Adoption Ban, only one member of each couple is a legal parent to their child. The motion argues that these families are irreparably harmed each day that the adoption ban remains in place and the other parent should be allowed to pursue adoption immediately.

Donna and Jan with daughter

(Janet Smith and Donna Phillips with their 8-year-old daughter, Hannah Marie Phillips.)

Together for 20 years and now legally married, Donna Phillips and Janet Smith are raising an eight-year-old daughter. Kathy Garner and Susan Hrostowski were married in 2014 and have been together for nearly 26 years. They have a fifteen-year-old son. Under the current law, neither Janet nor Susan is recognized as a legal parent to their children.  

Read coverage of the filing by Chris Geidner.

14 Alabama Counties Losing Thousands in Revenue Over Denial of Marriage Licenses

Alabama counties are missing out on thousands of dollars in revenue as a result of probate judges closing marriage license offices. The 14 counties that are not currently issuing marriage licenses are forfeiting an estimated $132,106.50 in annual revenue.

The Campaign for Southern Equality published a fact sheet about the impact of these closures titled “Closed for Business: Fact Sheet on Marriage Non-Complaince in Alabama.”


The full fact sheet is at:

Despite no longer performing a vital aspect of their jobs, probate judge and probate court employees in those 14 continue to be paid their full salaries and benefits. Across the state, probate judges’ salaries range from $52,500 to $155,000 annually.

Birmingham and Hattiesburg Convenings Announced

We are thrilled to announce that we are holding two convenings this fall to bring together grassroots leaders in the Deep South – October 9 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and November 14 in Birmingham, Alabama.


At these one-day convenings, CSE – along with local partners including The Spectrum Center in Hattiesburg and AIDS Alabama in Birmingham – will host workshops, trainings, and conversations about critical topics for LGBT* Southerners, like the continued push for full legal equality and access to quality healthcare.

Click here for updates and to RSVP.

In April, we brought together nearly 500 LGBT* activists from across the region at the 2nd annual LGBT* in the South Conference. We hope that these satellite convenings will keep building connections between local LGBT* organizers doing vital groundwork to fight for equality in the South.

If you live in or near these areas, please join us in this effort toward building a better South.

Southern Equality Fund launches 

The Campaign for Southern Equality has launched the Southern Equality Fund with grants to eight organizations and individuals working to achieve legal and lived equality for LGBT people in the South. The Fund is a grantmaking initiative designed to direct resources to grassroots LGBT groups and elevate LGBT leadership across the South, especially in small towns and rural areas.

More than 3 in 10 LGBT adults live in the South – a higher number of LGBT adults than any other region – but Southern LGBT organizations receive less than 4 percent of national funding.

From left to right: Z Zaldivar of Equality NC Foothills and Transgender Allies Group (TAG), Jasmine Beach-Ferrara of CSE, Rev. Debbie Early of People Being Jesus (PBJ), Suzy Guerrero of Henderson Fuerza Activa, Brandon King of The Elite Project, and Joey Lopez of CSE.

From left to right: Z Zaldivar of Equality NC Foothills and Transgender Allies Group (TAG), Jasmine Beach-Ferrara of CSE, Rev. Debbie Early of People Being Jesus (PBJ), Suzy Guerrero of Henderson Fuerza Activa, Brandon King of The Elite Project, and Joey Lopez of CSE.

The second set of grantees are all projects located in Mississippi:

  • The Spectrum Center, which will use the grant to organize the first ever Pride celebration in Hattiesburg, Mississippi: Hattiesburg Unified Southern Pride;
  • Unity Mississippi, which is organizing Mississippi Pride 2015 to coincide with a marriage equality ruling from the Supreme Court in late June;
  • The Inner Light Community Church, a group dedicated to creating safe spaces for diverse communities in Jackson and countering oppressive theology;
  • An LGBT art exhibition that will feature the works of LGBT artists in North Mississippi.
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.