CSE is based in Asheville, North Carolina, and works across the South to promote full LGBT equality. Through our multi-pronged approach, we are telling a new story about LGBT lives in the South. WATCH:
1. The WE DO Campaign involves LGBT couples requesting marriage licenses in their hometowns across the South in order to call for full equality under federal and state law and to resist discriminatory marriage laws; in a new strategy, married LGBT couples are also recording their legal out-of-state marriage licenses in their home counties to create a public record of their love and commitment.
2. The Hometown Organizing Project helps empower local leaders to promote lived equality in towns across the South, providing resources, training and support in local advocacy, service and visibility projects.
3. Our LGBT Rights Toolkit responds to the daily realities that LGBT people in the South face as a result of being second-class citizens; we provide in-person legal clinics and an online resource center to help LGBT people in the South protect themselves under current laws and get help in times of need.
4. Litigation to win marriage equality in Southern states.
General Synod of the UCC v. Reisinger is the case that won marriage equality in North Carolina and the Campaign for Southern Equality was honored to be part of the team behind this case.
A federal legal challenge to Amendment One was filed in the Western District of North Carolina on behalf of clergy from across faith traditions, same-sex couples and the United Church of Christ, Alliance of Baptists, Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis as national denominations.
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.
“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.
Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant
A federal challenge to Mississippi’s law banning same-sex marriage 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). Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant challenges the constitutionality of marriage laws in Mississippi that ban marriage between same-sex couples and deny recognition of same-sex marriages performed out of state.
Lead counsel for the plaintiffs is Roberta Kaplan of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. 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 issued in June 2013.
“We are hopeful that the freedom to marry will soon become a reality for LGBT families all across Mississippi and that the harms of discrimination that have been felt by so many will soon cease,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of 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.
A New Approach:
Across the South, LGBT people lack basic legal protections, face robust opposition to our rights and have limited resources for advocacy. LGBT people in our region are also at an elevated risk of poverty. Beyond this, the South receives less than five percent of the total annual funding that goes to LGBT organizations nationally. Factors like this contribute to the commonly held belief that the South is “unwinnable” when it comes to LGBT rights.
But we hold a different view and feel deeply hopeful about what’s possible in the South.
1) We believe there is a pressing need for advocacy, legal and crisis response services for LGBT people in the South.
2) We believe that federal equality is the most efficient and effective pathway to equality for LGBT people in the South. We also believe LGBT people and allies in the South are uniquely positioned to accelerate winning full equality on the federal level by directly resisting discriminatory laws and systems.
3) We believe that every person – including those conflicted about or opposed to LGBT rights – can become an ally.
As a result, we’re taking a new approach, building upon a rich legacy of civil rights organizing in the South and working in close partnership with other LGBT and civil rights groups.
This recent op-ed in the Raleigh News & Observer by Rev. Beach-Ferrara explains the strategy behind CSE’s push for LGBT rights in the South.
Based in the South, the Campaign for Southern Equality is a national effort to assert the full humanity and equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in American life and to increase public support for LGBT rights.
CSE’s work is based upon empathic resistance, a new ethic which calls for 1) resisting persecuting systems by expressing the authentic self; and 2) approaching those who oppose your rights with empathy.
CSE was launched as a non-profit in 2011, after a 6-year period of planning and research.