The North Carolina state Senate advanced Senate Bill 132, which includes anti-LGBT language and assertions, by a 41-5 vote yesterday. The bill would require North Carolina public schools to teach students a number of items including:
“Teaches that a mutually faithful monogamous heterosexual relationship in the context of marriage is the best lifelong means of avoiding sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.”
The bill is expected to come up for a final vote in the state Senate on Monday, May 13th. Please contact your North Carolina state Senator about this bill. You can find your state Senator and their contact info here.
On May 8, 2012 Amendment One passed in North Carolina, enshrining discrimination into the North Carolina Constitution. But the story didn’t end there.
The Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE) has never wavered in calling for full equality for all LGBT people. When Amendment One passed, we promised to continue our push for equality across North Carolina and the South.
Starting the next morning, on May 9th CSE raced across 10 town and cities in North Carolina and stood with LGBT couples and their supporters, saying “WE DO.”
In 2012 and 2013, more than 40 LGBT couples applied for marriage licenses as part of the WE DO Campaign in their hometowns across North Carolina. In Wilson, Durham, Winston-Salem, Asheville, Charlotte, Asheboro, Bakersville and Marshall, brave LGBT couples and their allies have stood up and said we are fully equal and called for full equality under the law.
In June, CSE staffers Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara and Lindsey Simerly were invited to the White House and met President Obama. (See Jasmine below.) They spoke with White House staffers about the urgent need that LGBT individuals and families have for legal protections in North Carolina and across the South.
In response to community requests, CSE’s legal team held a series of free “What Amendment One Means for You and Your Family” legal workshops across North Carolina. We went to Asheville, Charlotte, Asheboro, Winston-Salem and Durham. A huge thank you to attorneys Meghann Burke, Diane Walton, Bradley J. Weidemann, Connie Vetter and Sharon Thompson who generously donated their time in leading these workshops and answering questions about how Amendment One does – and doesn’t – impact people in N.C.
In recognition of CSE’s work across N.C., Rev. Beach-Ferrara received a 2012 Bob Page Equality Champion Award from Equality NC.
We also continue to work with our good friends at Gender Benders on many different projects, including a March 2013 Community Law Workshop focused on the transgender rights in the workplace. Gender Benders is a group for transgender, gender variant, LGBTQQI, and allied individuals in the Upstate, S.C. area.
Through their “Change for Change” fundraising drive they donated nearly $2,000 to CSE, funding which went directly to the January 2013 stage of the WE DO Campaign, when we led actions across 7 Southern states!
In other words, the story didn’t end with Amendment One. One year later, we’re more fired up than ever. With your support, we’ll keep pushing hard to tell this new Southern story and advocate for federal equality.
Last week, WE DO couple Jens and Rob met with their Congressman, David Scott (D-GA), to talk about marriage equality. In 2004 and again in 2006 Rep. Scott voted for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
Two days ago JMG reader Rob sent me this note: “Dear Joe, My partner & I met with our congressman, Rep.David Scott, yesterday and he told us that he completely supports marriage equality. He stated that he was a guest at Barney Frank’s wedding. He said that he would be willing to look at the Respect for Marriage Act as a co-sponsor if it is reintroduced in this Congress.”
Rep. Scott joins a growing list of Democrats who have switched their position on equality issues during the first half of 2013.
During January of 2013, Jens and Rob were one of 35 couples to apply for a marriage license as part of the WE DO Campaign.
The energy outside the Supreme Court Tuesday morning was electric, and – ignoring possible frostbite – I was happy. I felt so fortunate to have tuned in to the Prop 8 case back in 2009, and to have assisted in the CSE-related brief at the district level, then attended the trial in San Francisco, and now seeing familiar faces in Washington D.C.
U.S. Supreme Court
The line wound its way in to the courthouse, but I missed the cut-off for sitting in the courtroom and found myself in the lawyers’ lounge instead. Those in the lounge were clearly rooting for the queer couples. The bell tolled, the room fell silent, and we all leaned forward to listen to the arguments.
I perked up when Ginsburg slapped down Yes-on-8’s reliance on a lousy case and nearly danced when Sotomayor cornered that advocate around why LGBT folks deserve legal protections. A high point was Kennedy’s cite to a brief concerning kids with LGBT parents – a group to which I belong – and the importance of our voices.
Next, Ted Olson performed his craft, poetically capturing the essence of the case, standing his ground against Scalia, deftly distinguishing polygamy from same sex marriage when questioned, and concluding powerfully that the history of our Constitution is to extend to protect people once ignored and excluded.
Our story is one filled with passion and purpose, passion for each other, and passion for equality. We have been together for almost 2 years now, and Misha is the love of my life. We recently got engaged, and we plan to get married. We would both love to hear those words ‘by the power invested in me, by the state of South Carolina…’ We love the south, this is our home and we want to stay here. Our friends, our family and our businesses are here. We don’t want to have to move to have our marriage be legally recognized. It was our shared passion for equality that brought us together in the first place. So, when we heard that the WE DO Campaign was coming to Greenville we had to get involved! That may be the second best decision I’ve ever made. Saying yes to speak on the panel where I met Misha being the first.