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LGBT activists gathering for one day training in Hattiesburg on October 9th

The Campaign for Southern Equality team is thrilled to be heading down to Mississipi next week for the #LGBTSouth Convening in Hattiesburg on Friday, October 9!

Join CSE, The Spectrum Center, AIDS Alabama South, Rainbow Gulf Coast LGBT Center, Open Arms Clinic, National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), GenderBenders SC, Family Equality Council and organizers from across southern Mississippi and Alabama for one day of making connections and discussing topics that impact the local LGBT* community. Check out the day’s agenda:

9:00 a.m. – Networking

9:30 a.m. – Welcome & Intros

10:15 a.m. – Breakouts
– Compiling Trans* Resources
– Building your Political Power

12:00 p.m. – Lunch & Panel Discussion: LGBT* Healthcare Rights & Resources

1:30 p.m. – Breakouts
– HIV/AIDS Education & Access to Care
– LGBT* Families: Beyond Marriage

3:30 p.m. – What’s Next?

4:30 p.m. – Closing

This event is free and open to the public. RSVP for the Oct. 9 #LGBTSouth Convening in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

We are also excited to announce that we will be holding a round of the Southern Equality Fund for convening attendees! The Fund is a grantmaking initiative designed to direct resources to grassroots LGBT groups and elevate LGBT leadership across the South, especially in small towns and rural areas. Awards will go to projects that respond to the theme of the upcoming convening — LGBT* Health and Well Being.

Click here to download the application packet.

We’ve designed the form to be short and easy to complete. Grant proposals will only be accepted October 9-10, 2015.

If you have additional questions please do not hesitate to contact Chloe Stuber at

Non-profits offer info on LGBT rights at Blue Ridge Pride

Resources for transgender community and current info on LGBT rights from attorneys will be available for free at Blue Ridge Pride

The Campaign for Southern Equality, Pisgah Legal Services, Gender Benders and Walton Law Office are co-sponsoring a free legal clinic at Blue Ridge Pride on Saturday, October 3rd from noon to 5 p.m.

The legal clinic will offer a broad array of legal info and resources that includes:

  • Guidance on Affordable Care Act enrollment and information for the LGBT community regarding health care coverage;
  • Information guides and medical resources created specifically for the Transgender community;
  • Name change and gender change documents will be available through the Campaign for Southern Equality’s LGBT Rights Toolkit;
  • Individuals will be able to complete a Health Care Power of Attorney on site for free with the assistance of attorneys and notaries.
<i>(Join us at Blue Ridge Pride on October 3rd!)</i>

(Asheville city hall decked out with a Pride flag!)

Pisgah Legal Services Managing Attorney Jaclyn Kiger said, “Pisgah Legal Services is pleased to partner with the Campaign for Southern Equality to offer information on signing up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act as well as other legal health care concerns such as Health Care Power of Attorney documents. Last year alone, Pisgah Legal Services helped educate and assist thousands of local people to get the health care coverage they needed. Our staff and volunteer navigators are trained to offer unbiased advice and can answer questions regarding the many options under the NC Marketplace. The LGBTQ community may have questions regarding their legal rights related to health care and we will be on hand to answer those questions.”

“Health Care Powers of Attorney allow individuals to name the person who will make their healthcare decisions if they are ever incapacitated. These documents are particularly important in the LGBT community, where immediate family members might not be supportive, spouses might not be recognized by the state of North Carolina, or transgender issues might not be respected by someone’s next of kin. Transgender people find Health Care Power of Attorney documents especially helpful in communicating their wishes to healthcare providers, for example  continued hormone treatment or even the very fact that they are transgender,” said attorney Diane Walton of the Walton Law Office.

“The Gender Benders are excited to be partnering with organizations at Blue Ridge Pride to offering peer support, a resource guide on funding transition and journals we created by trans* folks for trans* folks. We will also be helping folks connect with the local resources they need through the process of transition. We’re grateful for our friends at the Campaign for Southern Equality for coordinating this dynamic partnership designed leave a lasting impact on trans* lives in the Carolinas,” said Ivy Hill, Program Director for Gender Benders, an organization for transgender, gender variant, LGBTQQI individuals, and our allies in the Upstate of South Carolina.

Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, said, “While we have made great strides toward equality, LGBT people in North Carolina still lack many basic legal protections. It is critical for our community to have accurate information about our rights and how we can protect ourselves and our families – ranging from completing a health care power of attorney form to completing the  name change process.”

Please join us at Blue Ridge Pride!

Based in Asheville, North Carolina, the Campaign for Southern Equality is a non-profit organization that empowers LGBT individuals and families across the South and advocates for full legal equality for all.

My Year as a Tzedek Resident

By Joey Lopez

10365897_10152412045182797_9219797992648867968_nThis time last year I was just beginning to settle in to Asheville. It is crazy to think that just over a year ago I moved from Detroit back to North Carolina to begin working at the Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE) through the Tzedek Social Justice Residency

IMG_1651Barely a month into my residency, the freedom to marry came to the fourth circuit – Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina (Maryland being the only state in the circuit to already have the freedom to marry). About a month later, CSE filed a lawsuit in Mississippi to extend the freedom to marry deeper within the South. Fast forward a few months, CSE brought together almost 500 activists and leaders from across the South to the second annual LGBT* in the South conference. In June the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling granting the freedom to marry to the entire country. What a year to be back home in the South working toward lived equality for LGBT folks.


During my time at CSE, I witnessed the dedication and resiliency of LGBT Southerners. Folks like Rev. David, Carolyn, and Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit in Madison County, North Carolina who brought together their community to shed light on the lives of LGBT people living there by hosting an ice cream social. I listened to the stories of my new friend Hannah organizing their community in West Virginia to be safer for LGBT people, particularly youth. Finally, reading all of the applications for the Southern Equality Fund speak to the amazing work folks are doing for their communities, for example Suzy organizing for the rights and wellbeing of the latin@ community in Henderson, NC. The work and capacity for change in the South has and continues to inspire me and shows me what incredible work can be accomplished in a climate with limited national support and resources.

Though my time with CSE has come to an end, I am not leaving Asheville or the movement. I am excited to start two new adventures. At Just Economics I will work closely with employers in Western NC to pay a living wage and create a more just and sustainable economy as the Living Wage Program Coordinator. At More Light Presbyterians, I will organize faith leaders across the country to stand against anti-LGBT legislation and create a stronger network of welcoming and affirming clergy. While short, I will carry with me the strong commitment to build relationships fostered in my time at CSE.

Remembering my time at CSE and looking forward to new opportunities only makes me more excited to introduce the incoming Tzedek Resident and Community Organizer – Felicia Blow. Felicia is a North Carolina native who has been living in Asheville for the past few years. She is passionate about the work of lived equality for LGBT people in the South and approaches the work understanding the plurality of identities within the LGBT community. I am really excited to see how she will impact CSE and the larger movement.


Majority of Marengo County Residents Say Probate Judge Should Issue Marriage Licenses, According to New Poll

In a new poll conducted across Marengo County, 57 percent of county residents reported that they believe the Probate Judge should resume issue marriage licenses based on concerns about lost county revenue. In 2013, Marengo County issued 142 marriage licenses, bringing in more than $6,000 in revenue for the county. Probate Judge Laurie Shoultz Hall earns over $97,000 annually and, along with probate court employees, continues to be paid a full salary despite not performing a vital aspect of their job.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality on June 26, 2015, the Marengo County Probate Office has not been issuing marriage licenses to any couples, straight or gay. Marengo County Probate Judge Laurie Shoultz Hall has explained this decision on the basis of her personal opposition to marriage between same-sex couples. Marengo is one of 14 counties across the state that have ceased issuing marriage licenses. Fifty-three counties across Alabama are issuing marriage licenses to couples, gay and straight.

According to the poll, 58 percent of county residents said that the legalization of gay marriage in Alabama had a positive impact or no impact on their lives. Additionally, 69 percent of respondents report personally knowing someone who is gay or lesbian.

The full results of the poll can be found at:

Public Policy Polling interviewed 359 Marengo County voters from August 28 – 31, 2015 using automated telephone interviews. The margin of error for the poll is +/- 5.1 percent.

If you live in one of these 14 Alabama counties are seeking to marry please contact our Campaign Manager, Lindsey Simerly at


Preliminary Injunction Filed in Lawsuit Seeking to Immediate Relief From Mississippi Adoption Ban

A motion seeking a preliminary injunction was filed on August 28th by two married couples with children in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Mississippi Department of Human Services, the federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Mississippi’s law banning adoption by same-sex couples. Mississippi is the only state left in the nation that bans gay couples from adopting without regard for their qualifications as parents or the best interests of the child.

The plaintiffs who filed the motion, Donna Phillips and Janet Smith & Kathy Garner and Susan Hrostowski, are among the “many same-sex couples” who the Supreme Court recently recognized “provide loving and nurturing homes to their children.” But because of the Mississippi Adoption Ban, only one member of each couple is a legal parent to their child. The motion argues that these families are irreparably harmed each day that the adoption ban remains in place and the other parent should be allowed to pursue adoption immediately.

Together for 20 years and now legally married, Donna Phillips and Janet Smith are raising an eight-year-old daughter. Kathy Garner and Susan Hrostowski were married in 2014 and have been together for nearly 26 years. They have a fifteen-year-old son. Under the current law, neither Janet nor Susan is recognized as a legal parent to their children.

Lawsuit documents are available at:

(Kathryn and Susan on their wedding day)

“The ‘what ifs’ are always there. What if something happens to me? What if something happens to Kathy. Our son has had two parents for 15 years and only one of us has the rights and responsibilities that other two parent families take for granted. We chose to have a child, . . . → Read More: Preliminary Injunction Filed in Lawsuit Seeking to Immediate Relief From Mississippi Adoption Ban