MARCH 7 UPDATE: The House Judiciary Committee passed SB 2681 in amended form on March 4. The amended version does NOT address concerns about the bill and is still a license to discriminate against LGBT people and on the basis of race. The bill can go to a floor vote through March 14. It’s critical to keep the pressure up each day.
Suggested Tweet for March 7: “Former Miss. Supreme Court Justice opposes
#SB2681, calls it “vague and overbroad.” @DSProgressive coverage at http://bit.ly/MTQsnw”
Read the latest coverage:
Background: The Mississippi state Senate unanimously passed the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” (SB 2681) on Jan. 31 and the House Judiciary Committee is now considering it. This bill is similar to legislation in Arizona that has been dubbed as a “Turn Away the Gays” bill.
ACTIONS TO OPPOSE SB 2681:
1) Call and email your member of the Mississippi House of Representatives TODAY:
Call the MS Capitol Switchboard at (601) 359-3770 to voice your opposition to SB 2681. Be ready to share your representatives’ name.
Call your rep. directly to express opposition. Find your representative, their phone number and email at: http://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/ …
Call script: “I’m a resident of your district and oppose SB 2681, which is bad for business in Mississippi and hurts my community. Please oppose this bill.”
The HRC has a handy email tool for Mississippi residents to contact state House members via email as well:
2) Post this graphic and this link - http://bit.ly/1gD2jj3 – on your Facebook page and stand against SB 2681.
3) Write a letter to your hometown paper stating your opposition to SB 2681. The Campaign for Southern Equality’s statement on SB 2681 can be read here. Check out this great op-ed by Carolyn Lucas of Hattiesburg: hatne.ws/1fJynVQ
You can also voice your opposition to SB 2681 through the Jackson Clarion Ledger on Twitter and Facebook:
4) Actions for those outside Mississippi:
For non-Mississippi residents this HRC action alert tool has been set-up to oppose SB 2681:
The Mississippi state Senate unanimously passed the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” (SB 2681) on Jan. 31. Debate by the state House could begin in committee as early as February 27th. This bill is similar to legislation in Arizona that has been dubbed as a “Turn Away the Gays” bill.
“Senate Bill 2681 would promote discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals and families in Mississippi. As a minister, it’s clear that this extreme bill is about legalizing discrimination not protecting religious freedoms. This proposed legislation is a step in the wrong direction as we move toward acceptance of LGBT people in all facets of life. That’s why we’re seeing bills like this fail across the country – they are extreme and out of touch with basic American values,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE), which promotes LGBT rights across the South. “Mississippi is home to a large, strong LGBT community who will be organizing day and night against this bill.”
The Mississippi bill closely resembles similar measures that are under consideration in Arizona and Georgia. Similar bills have been defeated in Tennessee and Kansas in recent weeks. Both large corporations such as Delta Airlines and national political leaders on both sides of the aisle – including Sen. John McCain – have spoken out against the bills in Arizona and Georgia citing concerns that they legalize discrimination.
“My parents fought against Jim Crow segregation in Mississippi so I could attend any public school I wanted. It is time for fair-minded Mississippians to rally against ‘Gay Jim Crow’ legislation that would make second-class citizens of the state’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens, including me,” says Rev. Carlton Elliott Smith, a Unitarian Universalist minister based in his hometown of Holly Springs, Mississippi.
Since January 2013, CSE has coordinated “WE DO Campaign” actions across Mississippi, standing with same-sex couples as they requested marriage licenses in their hometowns to take a stand against Mississippi’s ban on same-sex marriage. Same-sex couples from Poplarville, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Jackson and Tupelo participated in the campaign. CSE has also coordinated a series of free legal clinics across Mississippi focused on how LGBT people can protect their rights.
The Deep South Progressive blog continues to report on the bill.
On February 28 and March 1, more than 200 organizers from 8 Southern states will converge in Asheville, NC, for the 1st annual LGBT* in the South conference.
The Campaign for Southern Equality is excited to partner with the Hart Law Group and the National Center for Lesbian Rights on the conference. Co-sponsors and organizations are participating by running an amazing line up of trainings during the conference.
Join us for a day of FREE hands-on workshops and panel discussions about LGBT advocacy and organizing in the South.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 28th: The sessions will focus on LGBT law and are designed for attorneys; legal professionals; service providers; staff/leadership of LGBT* organizations. FRIDAY IS NOW FULL AND REGISTRATION IS CLOSED.
SATURDAY, MARCH 1st: The Saturday portion of the conference will feature 14 separate trainings and interactive panels designed to build skills and allows organizers working in the South to learn from each other and connect. SATURDAY TRAININGS ARE OFFERED FREE TO ALL. Pre-registration is closed, but if you wish to attend on Saturday, you can register on Saturday morning starting at 8:15 a.m.
*Saturday registration and check in are required for all attendees* in the atrium of the First Congregational UCC in downtown Asheville (20 Oak Street).
The organizations participating in the conference include:
The Hart Law Group, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Equality Federation, Equality Florida, First Congregational UCC of Asheville, Freedom to Marry, Gender Benders, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, National LGBT Bar Association, Marriage Equality USA, South Carolina Equality, Western NC Citizens for an End to Institutional Bigotry, the ACLU of NC, Freedom Center for Social Justice’s LGBTQ Law Center, Planned Parenthood of North Carolina, Utah Pride Center, Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville, Southerners on New Ground, Western NC AIDS Project, WNC Community Health Center’s Transgender Health Program, Congregation Bet Haverim, Youth Outright!, Wake Forest School of Law OUTLaw and ReBirth Church.
Don’t miss this amazing gathering of activists and organizers working for LGBT rights across the South!
Two married same-sex couples from Buncombe County, North Carolina braved the snow today to record their legal marriage licenses at the Register of Deeds office as part of the WE DO Campaign.
Matt and Shannon have been together for 9 years and were married last fall in Matt’s home state of Minnesota.
Al and Rebecca were married in Connecticut on June 4, 2012. They celebrated with a sweet treat, because it’s Valentine’s Day.
By creating a public record of their love and commitment, these couples are highlighting the reality that the federal government recognizes their marriage while NC refuses to.
The WE DO Campaign will hit the road to Jackson, Mississippi on March 25th.
Asheville, N.C. (February 14, 2014) – Last night, Judge Arenda Wright Allen of U.S. District Court in Virginia struck down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage stating that it is in violation of the U.S. Constitution. In striking down the law, Judge Wright wrote, “Our Constitution declares that ‘all men’ are created equal.” In her 41-page opinion, she also struck at the heart of the law, “Gay and lesbian individuals share the same capacity as heterosexual individuals to form, preserve and celebrate loving, intimate and lasting relationships.”
This move, along with recent court rulings in Kentucky, Oklahoma and Utah striking down state bans on same-sex marriage, highlights that North Carolina’s Amendment One is also unconstitutional.
Furthermore, just this week the Governor and Attorney General of Nevada ceased to defend their state’s ban on same-sex marriage. “After thoughtful review and analysis, the state has determined that its arguments grounded upon equal protection and due process are no longer sustainable,” said Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto on February 11. Prior to the court ruling in Virginia, Attorney General Mark Herring’s office refused to defend Virginia’s ban against same-sex marriage.
The Campaign for Southern Equality is calling for North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper to take the same course of action.
“Week by week it becomes increasingly clear that Amendment One and states’ bans on same-sex marriage are in violation of the U.S. Constitution. It is time for NC Attorney General Cooper to cease his defense of Amendment One, an unjust law that will ultimately be ruled unconstitutional,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality.
“The sole purpose of Amendment One is to deny lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals equal rights and protections under the law. Every day that it stays . . . → Read More: Virginia Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage Highlights That North Carolina’s Amendment One is Unconstitutional