Same-sex Couples, Clergy from Across the Country Stand for Full LGBT Equality in Asheville, NC, as WE DO Campaign Intensifies Tactics
Since the WE DO Campaign launched on October 3, eighteen same-sex couples have requested – and been denied – marriage licenses at the Buncombe County Register of Deeds Office in Asheville, NC. The purpose of the campaign is calling for full equality under federal law for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and resisting an unjust state law in North Carolina that prohibits marriage equality. Momentum around the campaign grows each day and the campaign’s first video has been viewed by over 5,500 people in the 24 hours since its release on October 12. Clergy and volunteers are arriving from across North Carolina and the United States to participate in a public, interfaith blessing for LGBT families. This will be followed by a large public action including a planned act of civil disobedience. The WE DO Campaign will be expanding to other communities in North Carolina in coming months.
Asheville, NC – At 12 PM today, Elli and Viviana, holding their newborn daughter, approached the counter of the Buncombe County Register of Deeds Office. The couple was wed before 120 family and friends and seeks the right to legally marry. Current North Carolina law prohibits them from doing so and, as a result, their marriage license application was denied. They were joined by over twenty supporters including Rev. Joe Hoffman of First Congregational Church and Rev. Mark Ward and Rev. Lisa Kemper, both of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville, NC.
Viviana and Elli join nineteen other couples who have participated in the WE DO Campaign since its launch on October 3, 2011. Eighteen couples have been denied licenses. The couples were all prepared for this response and will be back again to request a license on October 14th as the WE DO Campaign intensifies its effort to resist unjust and harmful laws. Two other couples have successfully recorded their legal marriage licenses from other states at the office during the campaign.
Hundreds of people have participated in the campaign to date, and clergy and volunteers are arriving from across North Carolina and across the country to participate in actions planned for Friday, October 14. The campaign’s first video, chronicling the experiences of couples as they are denied licenses, has been viewed by over 5,500 people in the 24 hours since its release yesterday (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gP61wDGAmXA).
“There comes a time when you can no longer live as a second-class citizen and when you are called by your conscience to directly resist those laws that treat you as unequal,” says Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality and a candidate for ordination in the United Church of Christ. “We are saying, simply, we are equal people and laws that treat us as unequal, must change. We will continue to resist them until they do.”
On October 14, the final day of this phase of the campaign, Rev. Joe Hoffman and Rev. Cartledge will lead a public, interfaith blessing of all LGBT families at Roger McGuire Green, in front of the Buncombe County Courthouse. They will be joined by clergy from across faith traditions and from across the country. Following the blessing, clergy and community members will lead a large public action, which will be followed by an act of civil disobedience.
“For many years, we have believed in marriage equality as well as basic equality for all; however, we have not done much in regards to directly standing up against institutional practices that deny people these dignities. Stemming from our love for one another and our son and our determination that he knows that pride in one’s self, one’s family, and one’s friends is something worth standing up for, we decided to become involved with the Campaign for Southern Equality, “say Ryan and Will, who have been together for 10 years and were denied a license on October 7, 2011.
The WE DO Campaign will be expanding to other communities in North Carolina in other Southern states in 2012.