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Southern Equality Fund round announced for Mississippi

The Southern Equality Fund is coming to Mississippi! SEFShareLink

Incredible work is happening throughout the South, but too often our community faces the challenge of limited or no funding for these efforts – especially in small towns and rural areas. We’ve launched the Southern Equality Fund to help change that.

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

The new funding cycle will provide four grants of up to $500 to groups and organizations working on the ground in Mississippi. We’ve made the application process short and sweet – just answer a few quick questions about your work. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. on Friday, May 15.

Click here to learn more and apply.

The Southern Equality Fund provides direct financial support to grassroots LGBT* groups and leaders across the South. Through the fund, we’re elevating LGBT* leadership in the South and supporting vital, grassroots efforts to achieve legal and lived equality across our region.

One down, one to go

Last week North Carolina House Speaker Moore said he will not take up a “religious freedom” bill this year due to mounting pressure from the public and the business community. This was a big step, but an anti-LGBT bill is still advancing in the General Assembly.

Senate Bill 2 (SB 2) is headed for a vote in the state House in May. The North Carolina state Senate has already passed this bill, which would allow magistrate judges to recuse themselves from performing marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples – or any couple at all – if they feel their religious beliefs are being violated.

This proposed legislation is a direct, discriminatory response to marriage equality becoming the law of the land in North Carolina. An Asheville Citizen-Times article, “Why do politicians cling to marriage discrimination?” reveals the many problems with this bill. In her comments, Jasmine, CSE’s Executive Director, sums up why this bill isn’t really about “religious freedom” at all:

“We have the freedom to practice religion in our place of worship and to hold our private beliefs and express those private beliefs. At the same time, in our shared public life, we’ve agreed that we will be governed by the principles of equality and fairness. We won’t elevate one religion over another. (Senate Bill 2) is discriminatory, but it’s also contradictory to the theory of separation of church and state.” – Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara

Simply put, this legislation is unconstitutional and, if passed, will require review from the courts. But let’s stop it before it comes to that.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has voiced opposition to SB2, but we need him to go a step further and promise to veto it.

If you’re a North Carolina resident, I’m asking you to call Governor McCrory right now at 919-814-2000 and urge him to veto SB 2 because it is unconstitutional and discriminatory.

CSE awards Southern Equality Fund grants

Southern Equality fund logoWhile the South is home to more than a third of the U.S. LGBT population, less than 4 percent of national LGBT funding goes to the South, according to a 2014 report. Much of the vital work for LGBT equality in small towns around the South is done by grassroots organizations with little or no budget. Through the Southern Equality Fund, the Campaign for Southern Equality is committing resources to the grassroots groups that fuel our movement.

At the 2015 LGBT* in the South conference, we announced the first four grant recipients of the Southern Equality Fund. Three of the recipients were chosen by CSE, while the fourth was voted on by conference attendees.

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.

Brandon King was awarded a grant for the Elite Project, which provides HIV counseling, resources and testing in the Birmingham area. The project will use the grant to promote their services and to reconnect with lost clients.

Central Alabama’s high infection rate spurred Brandon to apply.

“Recently Birmingham was listed as 17th in the country for HIV rates,” Brandon wrote. “For young people, particularly same-gender-loving young men of color that number is especially high.”

Suzy Guerrero of Henderson Fuerza Activa (Hendfact) also applied for a grant so that her group could promote their services. As an organization working to meet the needs of people in the Henderson, North Carolina area, they want to prominently place a billboard on the state highway in town, letting everyone know about their services. They also want to use the grant to fund a series of workshops that will help cultivate leadership within the community.

As the pastor of People Being Jesus (PBJ), Debbie Early has grown a unique ministry, with a focus on directly serving LGBTQ people, homeless people and people living with HIV. Debbie takes the ministry beyond spiritual care to address the needs the community members who show up, many of whom are referred by an HIV service provider. Debbie hopes to continue shining light in Hendersonville, and to grow the ministry to include support groups.

Z Zaldivar, who lives in the Foothills of North Carolina, applied for funding for a film project that will focus on the challenges transgender people face in the state and especially in rural areas. A central focus of the film will be suicide prevention in the trans* community. The film will be used to promote a forthcoming trans* resource guide that will connect transgender North Carolinians with competent service providers. In addition to the Southern Equality Fund grant, Zaldivar is working with Transgender Allies Group and Equality NC Foothills on the project.

 

 

Candlelight Vigil in Asheville Calls for Marriage Equality in all 50 States

Supreme Court to Decide Whether Same-Sex Couples Have Constitutional Right to Marry

A community vigil calling for full LGBT equality will take place on April 27 at 5:30 p.m. at the First Congregational United Church of Christ located at 20 Oak Street in Asheville. Hosted by the Campaign for Southern Equality, the event will feature readings and music by community members. Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara of the Campaign for Southern Equality will speak about the need for marriage equality in all 50 states.

Similar vigils will take place across the South as the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in four marriage equality cases on April 28th. The vigils are a call for equal protection under the law for LGBT individuals and families in the areas of employment, housing and marriage.

CSE is honored to be part of the national Unite for Marriage Coalition, in calling for full LGBT equality as the nation’s highest court hears these two landmark civil rights cases. Through this national coalition, vigils are being supported by the Campaign for Southern Equality in more than a dozen cities across the South.

 

“We have reached a critical moment in our nation’s history as the Supreme Court considers whether same-sex couples have a Constitutional right to marry. Here in the South, LGBT people experience the first-hand impact of discriminatory laws every day. We are hopeful that the Court will act to overturn the remaining bans on marriage equality and other discriminatory laws that impact that day-to-day lives of LGBT individuals and families,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality.

More information about the Asheville vigil can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/events/1657743857782682/

 

 

 

CSE launches fund for Southern LGBT* organizers

We are excited to announce the launch of the Southern Equality Fund, which will provide direct financial support to grassroots LGBT* groups and leaders across the South. This new fund is designed to elevate LGBT* leadership in the South and support vital, grassroots efforts to achieve legal and lived equality across our region.

Incredible work is happening throughout the South, but too often our community faces the challenge of limited or no funding for these efforts – especially in small towns and rural areas.

Our first funding cycle will provide grants of up to $250 to four participants at the 2015 LGBT* in the South conference.

We’ve made the application process short and sweet – just answer three quick questions about your work! The deadline is 5 pm on Friday, April 17. We will announce recipients at the closing conference session on Saturday, April 18.

Apply today!