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Discriminatory SB 2 passes North Carolina House

URGENT: Email Gov. McCrory and tell him to veto SB2.

Moments ago, the North Carolina state House passed a bill (SB2) that would allow magistrate judges and Register of Deeds employees to recuse themselves from providing marriage licenses to or performing marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples – or any couple at all – if they feel their religious beliefs are being violated. The vote was 67 to 43. This legislation is a direct response to same-sex couples marrying legally in North Carolina and to Amendment One being struck down by the federal courts.

“It is shameful that this bill has passed our legislature. It is nothing more than state sanctioned discrimination and a naked attempt to make a political statement without much care for how it hurts and demeans others. To be certain, if this bill becomes law, it will invite a new round of court challenges. Ultimately, like Amendment 1, this law will fail,” says Luke Largess of Charlotte-based Tin Fulton Walker & Owen and lead counsel in General Synod of the UCC v. Reisinger, the lawsuit that struck down Amendment One last October.

“This discriminatory bill treats gay and lesbian couples as second-class citizens and distorts the true meaning of religious freedom. We urge Governor McCrory to veto this discriminatory bill. We have the freedom to practice religion in our place of worship and to hold private beliefs. But as Americans, we’ve agreed that we will be governed by the principles of equality and fairness in our public and civic life. Senate Bill 2 is discriminatory and rooted in animus – it must not become law,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality.

The Campaign for Southern Equality is mobilizing people of faith, the LGBT community . . . → Read More: Discriminatory SB 2 passes North Carolina House

One down, one to go

NC Legislative Building, Raleigh, NC

Last week North Carolina House Speaker Moore said he will not take up a “religious freedom” bill this year due to mounting pressure from the public and the business community. This was a big step, but an anti-LGBT bill is still advancing in the General Assembly.

Senate Bill 2 (SB 2) is headed for a vote in the state House in May. The North Carolina state Senate has already passed this bill, which would allow magistrate judges to recuse themselves from performing marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples – or any couple at all – if they feel their religious beliefs are being violated.

This proposed legislation is a direct, discriminatory response to marriage equality becoming the law of the land in North Carolina. An Asheville Citizen-Times article, “Why do politicians cling to marriage discrimination?” reveals the many problems with this bill. In her comments, Jasmine, CSE’s Executive Director, sums up why this bill isn’t really about “religious freedom” at all:

“We have the freedom to practice religion in our place of worship and to hold our private beliefs and express those private beliefs. At the same time, in our shared public life, we’ve agreed that we will be governed by the principles of equality and fairness. We won’t elevate one religion over another. (Senate Bill 2) is discriminatory, but it’s also contradictory to the theory of separation of church and state.” – Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara

Simply put, this legislation is unconstitutional and, if passed, will require review from the courts. But let’s stop it before it comes to that.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has voiced opposition to SB2, but we need him to go a step further and promise to veto it.

If you’re a North Carolina resident, I’m asking you to call Governor McCrory . . . → Read More: One down, one to go

Candlelight Vigil in Asheville Calls for Marriage Equality in all 50 States

Supreme Court to Decide Whether Same-Sex Couples Have Constitutional Right to Marry

A community vigil calling for full LGBT equality will take place on April 27 at 5:30 p.m. at the First Congregational United Church of Christ located at 20 Oak Street in Asheville. Hosted by the Campaign for Southern Equality, the event will feature readings and music by community members. Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara of the Campaign for Southern Equality will speak about the need for marriage equality in all 50 states.

Similar vigils will take place across the South as the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in four marriage equality cases on April 28th. The vigils are a call for equal protection under the law for LGBT individuals and families in the areas of employment, housing and marriage.

CSE is honored to be part of the national Unite for Marriage Coalition, in calling for full LGBT equality as the nation’s highest court hears these two landmark civil rights cases. Through this national coalition, vigils are being supported by the Campaign for Southern Equality in more than a dozen cities across the South.

 

“We have reached a critical moment in our nation’s history as the Supreme Court considers whether same-sex couples have a Constitutional right to marry. Here in the South, LGBT people experience the first-hand impact of discriminatory laws every day. We are hopeful that the Court will act to overturn the remaining bans on marriage equality and other discriminatory laws that impact that day-to-day lives of LGBT individuals and families,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality.

More information about the Asheville vigil can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/events/1657743857782682/

 

 

 

CSE launches fund for Southern LGBT* organizers

We are excited to announce the launch of the Southern Equality Fund, which will provide direct financial support to grassroots LGBT* groups and leaders across the South. This new fund is designed to elevate LGBT* leadership in the South and support vital, grassroots efforts to achieve legal and lived equality across our region.

Incredible work is happening throughout the South, but too often our community faces the challenge of limited or no funding for these efforts – especially in small towns and rural areas.

Our first funding cycle will provide grants of up to $250 to four participants at the 2015 LGBT* in the South conference.

We’ve made the application process short and sweet – just answer three quick questions about your work! The deadline is 5 pm on Friday, April 17. We will announce recipients at the closing conference session on Saturday, April 18.

Apply today!

North Carolina Considers Similar Legislation to Indiana’s “Religious Freedom” Law

The N.C. Religious Freedom Restoration Act, legislation similar to Indiana’s so-called “religious freedom” law, has been introduced in both the North Carolina state House (HB 348) and state Senate (SB550). The legislation could allow for discrimination against LGBT individuals and other groups.

“I hope Governor McCrory and elected officials in North Carolina have learned that discrimination is bad for business and that they avoid making the same mistake as Indiana,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality and a minister in the United Church of Christ. “Religious freedom is a cornerstone of our country, but discrimination is not. These harmful bills are clearly based on animus and could open the door to discrimination against LGBT people and other groups of individuals. Religious freedoms are already protected by the Constitution and federal law.”

The full text of the bills can be read at:

(HB 348) http://ncleg.net/sessions/2015/Bills/House/PDF/h348v0.pdf

(SB 550) http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions/2015/Bills/Senate/PDF/S550v0.pdf