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Winston-Salem could pass same-sex partner benefits policy

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

On July 15, the city council in Winston-Salem, specifically the Committee on General Government, Housing, and Community Development, discussed a proposal that could add domestic partner benefits to the list of benefits that municipal employees can receive. The committee outlined possible eligibility criteria for benefits such as health insurance and retirement savings to include eligible partners of LGBT city employees.

Because of a statewide ban on marriage equality in North Carolina, LGBT couples across the state don’t have access to many of the basic benefits that opposite-sex marriages offer. A growing patchwork of city-level protections across North Carolina attempts to make up for the difficulties that LGBT people and families face, while the Campaign for Southern Equality pushes forward with a legal challenge to Amendment One that would make marriage available for all.

Winston-Salem residents and the Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE) have been advocating for the passage of this measure for many months and are hopeful that the policy will pass when it goes to a full vote before City Council. Watch a video of the committee meeting, where local activists Brent Morin and Mary Jamis, and CSE Legal Intern Liz Vennum testify in favor of the benefits policy. (Discussion of the proposal begins around 40:00.)

“We strongly encourage the city of Winston-Salem to pass a policy that extends domestic partner benefits to municipal employees,” said the Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, the executive director of Campaign for Southern Equality. “At a time when discrimination persists under state laws, it is critical to ensure that LGBT employees are treated fairly and equitably.”

Here are a few highlights from CSE’s white paper on the proposal:

With an estimated . . . → Read More: Winston-Salem should pass same-sex partner benefits policy

Free Legal Services at Blue Ridge Pride

Please join us at Blue Ridge Pride on Saturday, October 5 from noon to 5 p.m. We will have our volunteer legal team on hand, so that LGBT individuals and couples can complete a Health Care Power of Attorney on site for free! We will have notaries, attorneys and witnesses on hand, so that when you walk away this document will be 100% legal and ready to go.

No matter how old you are, whether you’re single or partnered, it’s critical that LGBT people complete this form so that your medical choices will be respected. It would normally cost hundreds of dollars to consult with an attorney, but it’s free on Saturday.

Topic: Health Care Power of Attorney Clinic at Blue Ridge Pride – Complete Your Forms On-Site with a Volunteer Attorney

Date: October 5, 2013; 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Location: Blue Ridge Pride, downtown Asheville, N.C. (Our booths will be near the corner of Spruce Street and the fire station.)

Led by: CSE’s Legal Team

Lead Sponsor: Human Rights Campaign

Partnering Law Firms: Cogburn & Brazil and Walton Law Office

Co-sponsor: Southern Poverty Law Center

CSE offers a series of free Community Law Workshops across the South. The goal of CLW’s is to empower LGBT people in the South to protect our rights to the full extent possible under current laws. CLWs take two forms: (1) community education sessions led by attorneys about special topics in LGBT law, such as name changes and family rights; and (2) legal clinics at which volunteer attorneys provide pro bono services (e.g. completing health care power of attorney forms). We are proud to collaborate with community partners and law firms to provide these free workshops.

Working with law enforcement to prevent hate crimes

Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara of the Campaign for Southern Equality gave a presentation On August 15th at the FBI office in Charlotte.

FBI agents from across the state heard from Rev. Beach-Ferrara and discussed how LGBT advocacy groups can partner with law enforcement agencies to help prevent hate crimes and ensure victims have access to LGBT-sensitive services.

(Ms. Susan Conrad and Special Agent in Charge John Strong of the FBI Office in Charlotte with Rev. Beach-Ferrara.)

Check out our LGBT Rights Toolkit at for more legal resources:

Anti-LGBT Language in North Carolina Senate Bill 132

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.”

Read more about the bill here.

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.

Gender Benders Publishes

The amazing folks at Gender Benders have just published this Southeastern Trans Resource List, which lists trans-friendly medical providers and attorneys across the Southeast.

Gender Benders spent months compiling this information so that trans folks across the South would have a reliable resource in finding the services they need. You can also access the resource list here.

We hope you’ll spread the word to LGBT folks across the South and then take a moment to learn more about Gender Benders, which does great equality work in Upstate South Carolina. We are proud and grateful to partner with them!