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How 832 LGBT people in the South got a little more equal in 2014

832.

That’s the number of people who were reached by CSE’s Community Law Workshops in 2014.

At these events, we connect clients to free legal services that are critical to LGBT people living in states with virtually no legal protections. At 13 different workshops this year, our volunteer attorneys and notaries provided thousands of dollars in free services to LGBT people across the South.

Here’s a look at our workshops in 2014:

February 5: Asheville, NC
Forty people showed up for a workshop led by Todd Greene, CPA of Brader Greene that explained how to call for equality when filing state income taxes. The attendees were legally married LGBT couples living in North Carolina, which, at the time, did not recognize their marriages.

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As a result, dozens of North Carolina couples like Anna and Barbara mailed in their marriage licenses along with their state tax return.

February 28-March 1: Asheville, NC
At the “LGBT in the South Conference: Advocacy Within and Beyond the Law” we partnered with The Hart Law Group and the National Center for Lesbian Rights to educate 200 practitioners on topics ranging from name changes to transgender rights to estate planning.

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Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights was the keynote speaker at our 2014 LGBT* In The South Conference.

 

March 23: Oxford, MS
Twenty-five law students and community members learned about the landscape of federal LGBT rights after the Supreme Court struck down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act.

March 26: Hattiesburg, MS
At a “drop-in” clinic, dozens of LGBT community members showed up to learn about their legal rights post-DOMA and to complete healthcare power of attorney forms.

May 22: Winston-Salem, NC
We partnered with North Star LGBT Community Center to provide six clients with free healthcare power of attorney directives.

June 21: Salisbury, NC
We helped 91 clients complete healthcare power of attorney directives at Salisbury Pride.

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We always have notaries on hand so that workshop clients walk away with a notarized, legally-effective healthcare power of attorney form.

July 18: Piedmont, SC
At Gender Benders Summer Camp 16 clients completed healthcare power of attorney forms or got assistance with the name change process.

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July 19: Charlotte, NC
At Charlotte Black Gay Pride, 56 clients completed healthcare power of attorney forms.

Rev. Leslie Oliver and Michelle Wyms complete a healthcare power of attorney form at a Community Law Workshop in Charlotte.

Rev. Leslie Oliver and Michelle Wyms complete a healthcare power of attorney form at a Community Law Workshop in Charlotte.

August 16: Charlotte, NC
We helped 144 Pride attendees complete healthcare power of attorney forms.

 

Volunteer attorneys consult with individuals at Charlotte Pride about their Health Care Power of Attorneys document.

Volunteer attorneys consult with individuals at Charlotte Pride about their Health Care Power of Attorneys document.

October 4: Asheville, NC
At Blue Ridge Pride, volunteer attorneys provided 76 clients with healthcare power of attorney directives.

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Cold weather didn’t get in the way of volunteers and Pride-goers participating in our healthcare power of attorney workshop.

 

October 18: Winston-Salem, NC
At Pride Winston-Salem we partnered with the OutLaw students at Wake Forest University to provide healthcare power of attorney directives to 100 clients.

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October 25: Winston-Salem, NC
40 clients took advantage of a free wills clinic, “Estate Planning for Equality,” which was offered in partnership with Wake Forest OutLaw and the North Carolina Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division on the campus of Wake Forest University.

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Have you voted yet?

Tyrone Greenlee of Mountain People's Assembly speaks to the crowd at the Moral March to the Polls in Asheville, NC, on the first day of early voting.

Tyrone Greenlee of Mountain People’s Assembly speaks to the crowd at the Moral March to the Polls in Asheville, NC, on the first day of early voting.

Over 4,100 people voted on the first day of early voting here in Buncombe County, NC, where CSE is based. It was pretty inspiring to see a line out the door at the local Board of Elections. To give this some context, only 2,954 people voted on the first day of early voting in 2010.

People are fired up about this election season, and there’s a lot to be fired up about.

Midterm elections matter because they shape local and statewide policies that directly affect people’s lives. Voting early matters too. It sends a clear message that we are fully engaged in the issues that impact our lives and our communities.

Seven Southern states have early voting this year: Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. Find out the dates for early voting in your state at www.southernequality.org/gotv.

Head on over to your nearest voting booth and vote. In doing so, know that you’re making a difference.

CSE staff show off their "I Voted Early" stickers.

CSE staff show off their “I Voted Early” stickers.

Hearing set for November 12 in Mississippi marriage equality case

A hearing on the motion for preliminary injunction has been set in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant, a federal challenge to Mississippi’s law banning same-sex marriage. At 9 a.m. on November 12, both sides in the case will gather in federal court in Jackson, Mississippi before U.S. District Court Judge Carlton W. Reeves.

A schedule for briefings as set by the judge can be found here.

“By setting the schedule that it did, the Court clearly appreciated the need for expedition on issues of such great constitutional and practical import. We look forward to presenting our arguments to Judge Reeves on November 12. We are confident that, having read the briefs and heard our arguments, the Court will grant the relief that our clients seek – namely, the right to be treated like all other Mississippi families who love and care for each other, pay their taxes, and do their best to raise their kids,” says lead counsel Roberta Kaplan.

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Lead counsel for the plaintiffs is Roberta Kaplan of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. Plaintiffs are also represented by Mississippi attorney Robert McDuff of McDuff & Byrd, based in Jackson, Mississippi.

Kaplan was also lead counsel in United States v. Windsor, the landmark case that struck down sections of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in a U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued in June 2013. The Windsor ruling resulted in the federal government recognizing same-sex marriages and paved the way for federal judges and U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals to strike down state laws banning marriage from coast to coast.

“We are hopeful that the freedom to marry will soon become a reality for LGBT families all across Mississippi and that the harms of discrimination that have been felt by so many will soon cease,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two same-sex couples – Andrea Sanders and Rebecca Bickett, and Jocelyn Pritchett and Carla Webb – and the Campaign for Southern Equality. Campaign for Southern Equality, et. al. v. Bryant, et. al. challenges the constitutionality of marriage laws in Mississippi that ban marriage between same-sex couples and deny recognition of same-sex marriages performed out of state.

Same-sex couple denied marriage license in Tennessee

On Thursday morning, October 16, Raymie and his partner Matt walked into the Hamblen County County Courthouse and did what many Tennessee couples do when they’re in love: They asked for a marriage license.

“The only thing separating our family and having equality is a 45-minute drive across state lines,” Raymie explained to the Hamblen County Clerk. He was referring to North Carolina, which gained marriage equality last Friday.

But because they’re a gay couple, they were denied. Their state doesn’t recognize recognize their relationship – even though they’ve been together for nine years.

Matt and Raymie, who’ve been together for 9 years, applied for a marriage license for the second time in their hometown of Morristown, Tennessee.

Less than a week ago, Matt and Raymie drove over to Asheville, North Carolina and celebrated with their friends after a federal judge struck down Amendment One and same-sex marriages began. They watched as clergy performed weddings on the steps of the Buncombe County Register of Deeds Office, legally uniting dozens of couples.

Thursday was the second time they’ve asked their local clerk for a license, and they plan to keep going back until marriage equality comes to Tennessee. A ruling on the issue of marriage could be handed down from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals any day now, impacting Tennessee and neighboring states.

. . . → Read More: Same-sex couple denied marriage license in Tennessee

PHOTOS: North Carolina families are ready for equality

A ruling in favor of marriage equality in North Carolina is expected any moment. When it happens, it will impact the lives of thousands of LGBT families in the Tarheel State.

Check out who’s ready:

Mark and Tim are waiting in Winston-Salem

Watch what happened when they were denied a marriage license the first time and had to go all the way to D.C. to get legally married.

 

Amy and Lauren are waiting in Asheville

Kay and Ryn are ready in Waynesville

Scott and Joey are ready in Charlotte

In fact, Joey and Scott are so ready that they’ve been camping out at their local Register of Deeds office, waiting for a marriage equality ruling to drop any minute.

Trudy and Justine, plaintiff couples in a federal marriage equality case in NC, are ready in Raleigh.

Amy and Diane are ready in Candler.

Tyler and Nils are ready in Asheville

Jerry and Brent are ready in Winston-Salem.

Jan and Beth are ready in Hendersonville.

Keisha and Dare are ready in Marion.

. . . → Read More: PHOTOS: North Carolina families are ready for equality