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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.

LGBT couples across Mississippi record marriage licenses

Eddie and Justin submitted their California marriage license for recording at the Hinds County Chancery Clerk's Office. Read WAPT's report on the Hinds County couples: http://bit.ly/1rOTNTA

Eddie and Justin submitted their California marriage license for recording at the Hinds County Chancery Clerk’s Office. Read WAPT’s report on the Hinds County couples: http://bit.ly/1rOTNTA

On Wednesday, August 13, 17 same-sex couples in nine Mississippi counties submitted their marriage licenses for the public record at their local Chancery Clerk’s offices. The action, which is part of CSE’s WE DO Campaign, was an effort to expose the harm caused to LGBT families by the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Since a voter-approved ban passed in 2004, state and county officials in Mississippi are not allowed to perform same-sex marriages or recognize marriages from other states. Recording their marriage licenses as vital records with the Chancery Clerk is the only avenue LGBT couples have to publicly document their marriages.

Same-sex couples were able to record their licenses in Amite, Desoto, Hancock, Hinds, Lafayette, Lamar, Oktibbeha and Pearl River Counties, while four couples in Harrison County were denied. CSE’s legal team, as well as other chancery clerks in Mississippi have concluded that counties are legally required to register any legal document, including marriage licenses, for the public record. But Harrison County Chancery Clerk John McAdams said that his office had never filed marriage licenses. CSE is standing with the Harrison County couples as they continue trying to document their licenses.

Jena and Jennifer were among the couples who submitted their license for the public record in Harrison County and were denied.

Jena and Jennifer were among the couples who submitted their license for the public record in Harrison County and were denied.

In Mississippi, which leads the nation in poverty, many same-sex couples don’t have the means to have a destination wedding to another state. Research has shown that LGBT people, especially lesbians, are more likely to live in poverty than their heterosexual counterparts, and a wage gap exists between gay and straight people in the same occupations. LGBT people raising children are even more likely to live in poverty, and Mississippi has the highest rate of LGBT parents. A recent national survey found that more than half of LGBT Mississippians are in a long-term relationship.

Ravi and Paris entered their Massachusetts marriage license into the public record in Oktibbeha County. Read the Commercial Dispatch article about their action: http://bit.ly/VAhWms

Ravi and Paris entered their Massachusetts marriage license into the public record in Oktibbeha County. Read the Commercial Dispatch article about their action: http://bit.ly/VAhWms

Pam and Mary started dating in 2009, after meeting online. Mary’s best friend had set up a profile for her, and decided that Pam was a great match. When the couple decided to marry, they drove out to San Bernadino, California, which was the destination for Mary’s truck route. They went to Mary’s delivery site and, when the business told them to wait before unloading, they asked if they could go marry quickly. They were told to “take their time,” so they went a few blocks to the courthouse and married. The date was July 7, 2008, which was during the brief period that same-sex marriage was legal in California before the passage of Prop 8.

When Pam and Mary went to register their marriage license in Hancock County, they were hoping this would take them one step closer to equality.

“We have never felt like our marriage was any different than those of our straight friends,” Pam said. “All we ask for is the same rights, benefits, and respect that straight people take for granted.”

 

Pam (left) and Mary talk to the media after recording their marriage license in Hancock County. Read more about the Gulf Coast LGBT couples from the Sun Herald: http://bit.ly/1sPXlcl

Pam (left) and Mary talk to the media after recording their marriage license in Hancock County. Read more about the Gulf Coast LGBT couples from the Sun Herald: http://bit.ly/1sPXlcl

Day of statewide action for marriage equality in Mississippi

On August 13, same-sex couples in nine counties across Mississippi will record their out-of-state marriage licenses at their local Chancery Court offices. Organized by the Campaign for Southern Equality, this statewide day of action for marriage equality will involve local couples recording their licenses in Amite, Desoto, Hancock, Harrison, Hinds, Lafayette, Lamar, Oktibbeha and Pearl River counties.

Meet the couples that will call for rights on Wednesday:

Jenna and Jennifer

(Jena and Jennifer with their daughter)

Pamela and Mary

(Pamela and Mary)

Nathan and Paul

(Nathan and Paul)

Read More Day of statewide action for marriage equality in Mississippi

Charlene and Dee to record marriage license in Mississippi on August 13

A recent national survey found that more than half of LGBT Mississippians are in a long-term relationship, but for LGBT couples in Mississippi, marriage is only available across state lines. In 2004, same-sex marriage was banned by Mississippi voters. LGBT couples who travel out of state to wed are viewed as legal stingers in the eyes of the state, though the federal government does recognize these marriages.

On Wednesday, August 13, couples in eight Mississippi counties will record their out-of-state marriage licenses with their local chancery clerks, creating a public record of married LGBT couples in their hometowns. The couples are part of the WE DO Campaign, which calls for Southern states to give legal recognition to LGBT families.

(Dee and Charlene have been together for 27 years. They will record their marriage license in Hinds County on August 13 as part of WE DO Campaign actions taking place across the state of Mississippi.)

Charlene and Dee Smith-Smathers have been together since 1986. Dee introduced Charlene to political activism, and the couple participated in the women’s movement and the early days of the AIDS crisis. For them, recording their marriage in Mississippi builds on their lifetime of taking public actions in the face of injustice.

“We feel it is our duty to contribute however we can,” Charlene says. Dee and Charlene hope that recording their marriage license in Hinds County will bring awareness to the fact that married same-sex couples live in Mississippi, but aren’t treated equally under state law.

The couple didn’t plan on being married outside of Mississippi, but they had the opportunity to have a wedding thanks to the efforts of their family and friends. Dee’s nephew turned over his frequent flier miles to the couple, and they . . . → Read More: Charlene and Dee to record marriage license in Mississippi on August 13

Recap: Here's what you did for equality in July

July was a whirlwind month for the Campaign for Southern Equality. We’re now on the verge of marriage equality in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia thanks to your support.

Here’s what we accomplished together in July:

Ran two free Community Law Workshops in North and South Carolina.

Rev. Leslie Oliver and Michelle Wyms completed healthcare power of attorney forms 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. CSE and the LGBTQ Law Center with the support of volunteer attorneys provided LGBT Southerners with thousands of dollars worth of legal work at no cost.

At Gender Benders Summer Camp in Piedmont, South Carolina 15 people completed name change or Health Care Power of Attorney forms and at Charlotte Black Gay Pride 56 people completed a Health Care Power of Attorney!

Pushed for an LGBT*-inclusive domestic partner benefits policy for city employees in Winston Salem, North Carolina.

CSE staff and community members testified on July 15 about the importance of the policy, which will include qualifying partners of LGBT* employees in healthcare and retirement benefits. We’re hopeful that the proposal will pass a full city council vote in the fall.

Read more about the policy here.

CSE Legal Intern Liz Vennum speaks to WInston Salem councilmembers about the domestic partner benefits proposal

Called for marriage equality at three WE DO Actions.

In a span of two weeks traveling across North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky and Illinois, CSE staff stood with couples at three separate WE DO actions.

On July 22, Dare and Keisha . . . → Read More: Recap: Here’s what you did for equality in July