Donate to CSE!

Online fundraising for Advocating for LGBT rights across the South

Connect with CSE

CSE FacebookFollow CSElive on Twitter

Phone: 828.242.1559
Email: info@southernequality.org Snail mail: PO Box 364, Asheville, NC 28802

Report discrimination and violence

Click here to submit a report from anywhere in the US. The Progressive Project LGBT Civil Rights

Upcoming Events This Fall

As our whirlwind summer is coming to a close, the Campaign for Southern Equality is continuing our call for full equality for LGBT people in the South. Through several events this fall, we’ll continue our work of providing free legal services to LGBT families, and in a new effort work to make sure that LGBT voters in North Carolina are heard in the 2014 elections.

Here’s a look at our upcoming events:

Community Law Workshop at Blue Ridge Pride
Pack Square Park in Asheville, North Carolina
Saturday, October 4, 12-4 p.m.
RSVP here

Community Law Workshop at Pride Winston-Salem
Downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Saturday, October 18, 12-4 p.m.
RSVP here

The Campaign for Southern Equality along with the LGBTQ Law Center is proud to offer a chance to complete a Health Care Power of Attorney document at two upcoming Pride events in North Carolina.

Rev. Leslie Oliver and Michelle Wyms complete a healthcare power of attorney form at a Community Law Workshop in Charlotte.

(Rev. Leslie Oliver and Michelle Wyms complete a healthcare power of attorney form at a Community Law Workshop in Charlotte.)

The goal of a Community Law Workshop is to empower LGBT people in the South to protect our rights to the full extent possible under current laws. With the support of volunteer attorneys we were able to provide LGBT Southerners with thousands of dollars worth of legal work at no cost.

Early Vote Rally
Pack Square Park in front of the Vance Monument, Asheville, North Carolina
Thursday, October 23 at 2-5:30 p.m.
More info soon!

P.S. Don’t forget to save the date for our 2015 LGBT* in the South Conference, set for April 17 and 18 in Asheville!

Winston-Salem Recognizes LGBT Employees' Marriages Through New Policy

The City of Winston-Salem, North Carolina has announced a new policy to recognize the legal out-of-state marriage licenses of LGBT city employees and extend standard employee benefits to their families. Winston-Salem is believed to be the first municipality in North Carolina to take this step.

Read more from the Winston-Salem Journal.

“We applaud the City of Winston-Salem for taking the step to recognize all employees’ marriages as equal. We have been honored, through our Hometown Organizing Project, to work with a wonderful team of local advocates to make this policy change a reality. We also continue to advocate for the city  to implement a short-term domestic partner benefits policy that addresses the disparity in benefits for couples who cannot afford to travel and get married in another state.” said Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of North Carolina-based Campaign for Southern Equality. 

Read the Campaign for Southern Equality’s memo on why the proposed domestic partner benefits policy is also important, as we wait for marriage equality to be implemented in all 50 states.

The introduction of this policy was spearheaded by local advocates who testified before the city council’s Committee on Community Development, Housing and General Government last month. Council members were considering extending benefits to unmarried domestic partners of city employees, but that proposal has not yet moved forward.

Reflections on Ferguson

By Meghann Burke

Meghann is an attorney at Brazil & Burke, P.A. where she practices civil litigation and criminal defense. She also serves as Legal Team leader for the Campaign for Southern Equality.

Jasmine and I have closely watched the events in Ferguson unfold these past weeks with broken hearts. As we hold our 2 month-old son, I cannot help but think about the unspeakable grief of Michael Brown’s mother. And Kajieme Powell’s. And Eric Garner’s. And Trayvon Martin’s.

The events in Ferguson shine a light on a national crisis related to the safety of young black men in America. There are other issues indeed, such as the militarization of police forces and freedom of the press. But the core issue – the one we must address – is the daily risk that black men live with simply for being who they are.

I’ve followed events in Ferguson closely for many reasons, among them that it’s personal. I can imagine the very playgrounds that Michael Brown played on, the very schools he attended, the very streets he walked, because St. Louis is my hometown. It holds a special place in my heart as the place where I was born and raised, where my large family calls home.

The story in Ferguson does not start with bullets piercing an unarmed young man. Its origins reach beyond the recent decertification of a primarily black school district, through white flight, and past the use of racially restrictive covenants to prevent African-American families from fully participating in the city’s civic and economic life. It begins somewhere on the steps of St. Louis’ Old Courthouse, seated below the Arch, where Dred Scott’s life was summarily dismissed as nothing more than a white man’s property. (Dred Scott v. Sandford, decided in 1857, is the most infamous case in  U.S. Supreme Court history. The court found that African-Americans, whether free or slave, were not citizens of the United States, that Congress lacked the power to ban slavery, and that the white man’s property rights to a slave were protected by the 5th Amendment. It was later overturned by the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution.)

As in countless communities across the South, the pulse of St. Louis beats with good-hearted people whose lives are more complicated than oversimplified headlines. Michael Brown’s death is the impetus of the grief and anger expressed in recent protests and prayer vigils, but these protests are also about so much more.

In times of grief, words may not soothe the pain. Silence, however, is worse, for it suggests that one’s suffering does not merit recognition.

As a white woman, I am writing as an alternative to silence. I am writing to say publicly that I care about the fate of black men in America, about black men who are my friends, and those who are among my heroes. About the young black boys I know and the families that are raising them. To say publicly that this issue is personal to me. That it matters to me. That it drives the work I do as an attorney and as CSE’s Legal Team leader.

I also write as a gay white woman. I urge white LGBTQ people who may not feel immediately, personally impacted by events in Ferguson to pause and reconsider. The struggle for racial equity and justice in America is directly linked to the struggle for LGBTQ equality. Some of these connections are explicit: LGBTQ people of color are directly impacted by both forms of injustice as are the many multi-racial LGBTQ families in which children of color are growing up. But beyond this, there is a shared experience that opens up space for understanding – the experience of having one’s basic safety and rights at stake simply for being who you are in public spaces.

In our struggle for LGBTQ equality, we strive to act from a place of love. This commitment to an ethic of love requires us to reflect the ideal of love in both our private and public lives – from our laws, to our politics, to our schools, to our economy, to our law enforcement policies and practices, to our personal lives. Doing so is a life’s work that transcends any milestone for any particular group within what Dr. King called the Beloved Community. Our work – yours and mine – means nothing if we cannot find our shared humanity in all calls for justice.

The streets of Ferguson and the people who have been filling them each night have been telling us a story. We must listen. More than that, we must respond.

The story of Ferguson is complicated, and we should not attempt to simplify it. The moments of shared humanity we have seen in Ferguson – a black police captain talking openly and vulnerably about his concerns for his own son’s safety, residents of Ferguson cleaning up local businesses destroyed by looting the morning after, Trayvon Martin’s mother writing a letter of condolence to Michael Brown’s mother, protesters giving first aid to a journalist injured by tear gas – remind us of these complexities.

I am standing with the people of Ferguson who call for peace and justice not as a distant observer but because this struggle impacts all of us: The ability to be who you are in public spaces is more than just a right of citizenship. It is what it means to be human.

CSE provides legal services at Charlotte Pride

cltpride13

More than 100,000 people attended Charlotte Pride during the weekend of August 16 and 17 according to Q Notes.

(Photo from Q Notes)

The Campaign for Southern Equality along with the LGBTQ Law Center were proud to offer a chance to complete a Health Care Power of Attorney document at Charlotte Pride! More than 30 attorneys and notaries volunteered their time on Saturday to help us provide legal rights to LGBTQ people.

(Attorneys reviewing POA doc with individuals)

And we’re happy to report that 144 individuals completed a Health Care Power of Attorney document on Saturday at Charlotte Pride!

(Marie and Terry)

Marie and Terry, together for 30 years, were two of the people who completed a document. They now know that their medical choices will be respected during an emergency medical situation.

(Bishop Tonyia Rawls of the LGBTQ Law Center)

The goal of a Community Law Workshop is to empower LGBT people in the South to protect our rights to the full extent possible under current laws. With the support of volunteer attorneys we were able to provide LGBT Southerners with thousands of dollars worth of legal work at no cost.

(Swearing oath with the notary)

Don’t miss our upcoming Community Law Workshops:

Blue Ridge Pride (October 4, Asheville, NC); Health Care Power of Attorney offered with LGBTQ Law Center. Pride Winston-Salem (October 18, Winston-Salem, NC); Health Care Power of Attorney offered with LGBTQ Law Center. . . . → Read More: CSE provides legal services at Charlotte Pride

Supreme Court issues stay in 4th Circuit marriage ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court has responded to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and issued a stay in the Bostic case. This means that couples in the Virginias and the Carolinas cannot immediately exercise their fundamental right to marry as recognized by the Fourth Circuit.

We are disappointed in today’s action by the Supreme Court. Every day that same-sex couples in the 4th Circuit – and across the country – are not able to marry, LGBT families are harmed.

But we remain hopeful that the Supreme Court will take up a marriage equality case in short order. As many legal experts have speculated, we could even see a 50-state ruling as soon as June of 2015. Advocates on both sides have petitioned the Supreme Court for a ruling that would settle the issue.

In every single case heard by a federal judge since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision striking down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act, federal judges have ruled that marriage is a fundamental right that can’t be denied to same-sex couples. We are confident that marriage equality will be a reality in the South – it’s a question of when, not if.

Read more about the stay issued by the Supreme Court from legal analyst Chris Geidner.