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Counties Across Mississippi Begin to Issue Marriage Licenses

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals did not lift the stay on Monday in the Mississippi marriage equality case, and instead asked for each side in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant to “file a letter advisory on the current position of this case” by Wednesday, July 1.

At least 47 counties across Mississippi began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Monday.

The order from the 5th Circuit can be downloaded here: http://www.southernequality.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/5th-Circuit-on-June-29.pdf

The plaintiffs’ reply brief can be downloaded here: http://www.southernequality.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Document2.pdf

“While we will be responding to the Fifth Circuit’s letter very soon, we believe that the issues here are simple and straightforward. The Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell is quite clear: Every American, regardless of their sexual orientation, has the right to marry. We understand that the Mississippi Attorney General put out a statement earlier today clarifying that Circuit Clerks in Mississippi may now issue marriages to same-sex couples, and that some are doing so. Although some additional legal steps may be necessary before all clerks are formally compelled to issue these licenses, we do not anticipate any lengthy delays in that process. We look forward to the day – which we are confident will come very soon – when gay and lesbian couples can marry in all 82 counties in the state of Mississippi,” says Roberta Kaplan, lead counsel in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant, the lawsuit in which the Mississippi District Court declared Mississippi’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

“Same-sex couples simply cannot wait another day for the protections and rights that they are now guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality.

 

SCOTUS marriage MS hotline

 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. In the South, this translates to $1.71 of funding per LGBT adult annually, this compares with $10.10 per LGBT adult each year in the Northeast. The Southern Equality Fund combats this lack of resources by funding projects across the South.

The following grants were made to participants at the 2015 LGBT* in the South conference:

  • The Elite Project of AIDS Alabama, an HIV outreach and resource program in Birmingham, Ala., which will use their grant to promote their services;
  • Henderson Fuerza Activa, a Latino community organization in Henderson, NC, which will use their grant to get a billboard;
  • People Being Jesus, a service-oriented ministry in Hendersonville, NC, which will use their grant to cover operating costs;
  • Transgender Allies Group, an effort to connect transgender North Carolinians to trans-competent legal, health and mental health practitioners. The grant will be used for a video about suicide prevention.

Check out the Southern Equality Fund awardees from the 2015 LGBT* in the South conference.

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.
“The South receives just a tiny sliver of funding in the national LGBT movement. The need for services and advocacy is immediate and profound. Getting resources to the South isn’t just a strategic mandate, it’s a moral one. There are incredible leaders across the South who are brave, creative and resourceful. But they need resources to execute their work,” said Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality.
Organizations and individuals do not need to have 501c3 status to apply; the application process has been designed to be streamlined and accessible, with a short period between the deadline and disbursement of funding. With a goal of increasing grant size, CSE is actively raising funds for the next cycle of grants which will be announced in the fall of 2015.

Hundreds gather for second annual LGBT* in the South conference

We were thrilled to have 500 activists and organizers from across 17 states join us in Asheville!

“When you have change happening for women, for people of color, for LGBT people and their allies, that’s permanent, that stays,” said Mandy Carter the keynote speaker at the conference, who helped co-found Southerners on New Ground and the National Black Justice Coalition.

The conference combined workshops to build organizing skills, facilitated discussions about topics impacting LGBT* Southerners, and Continuing Legal Education (CLE) sessions for attorneys on topics of LGBT* law.

Check out a full list of the panels and workshops from the conference.

Yall means all

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.