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On Heels of 4th Circuit Ruling, LGBT Couples Apply for Marriage Licenses in Greenville, South Carolina

On Monday the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. The same day South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced he would continue to defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

“Currently, South Carolina’s law remains intact,” said Mark Powell, a spokesman for S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson. “People should not rush to act or react until that time when a decision is made by the highest court in the land.”

Just two days later, five LGBT couples living in South Carolina went to the Probate Court in Greenville to apply for marriage licenses as part of the WE DO Campaign.

North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Virginia are all in the 4th Circuit and are now on the verge of marriage equality after Monday’s historic ruling.

Supporters of the couples lined up around the block to walk to Probate Court with the couples.

This was Ivy and Misha’s fourth time applying for a marriage license in their home state of South Carolina. They do not want to travel out of state to be wed.

Ivy is a co-founder and the Program Director of Gender Benders, a grassroots social justice and support group working on trans* issues.

Supporters circled up outside Probate Court as clergy leads an interfaith blessing of the couples before they enter the building to apply for marriage licenses.

“I love this woman and this woman loves me. We will not stop coming here until we have equal rights,” said HP (in bow tie) to the . . . → Read More: On Heels of 4th Circuit Ruling, LGBT Couples Apply for Marriage Licenses in Greenville, South Carolina

Gay couple's courageous stand in Marion, North Carolina

Keisha and Dericka knew that when they went to the McDowell County Register of Deeds’ Office this morning to request a marriage license as part of the WE DO Campaign, they would almost certainly be denied. What they didn’t expect, however, was that 150 counter-protestors would hold a rally on the courthouse lawn.

WE DO participants pray in front of the McDowell County Courthouse, where hundreds of anti-gay protestors had gathered.

With the sounds of condemnation in the background, the couple received a blessing from their minister, Rev. Christy Corna, who will officiate their wedding ceremony in September. They then proceeded to the Register of Deeds Office, hand-in-hand, followed by friends and supporters.

“This is what courage looks like–for Keisha and Dericka and their friends to stand up publicly for equality when there is so much pressure to stay silent, when you are outnumbered by those who are protesting you,” said Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality. “

Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara leads the group of WE DO participants in prayer.

As they stood at the counter, Keisha and Dare held their heads high and stated their intentions to the clerk. They handed their drivers’ licenses to the clerk, who examined them and stated that they were ineligible for a marriage license because they are a same-sex couple. Keisha and Dare explained that they want their family to be recognized by the state of North Carolina and by their hometown of Marion. The clerk refused to accept their application or to write “DENIED” on it.

Keisha (left) and Dericka attempt to submit their application for a marriage license in McDowell County, North Carolina.

As they left the office and stepped back outside, the . . . → Read More: Gay couple’s courageous stand in Marion, North Carolina

Campaign for Southern Equality events in June

Tuesday, July 17 from 6:30 to 8:45 pm: Screening of God Loves Uganda

A hard-hitting documentary exposing the role of American evangelism in fueling Uganda’s terrifying turn toward the death penalty for gays. This event is co-sponsored by Land of the Sky UCC. Please note this film includes disturbing content and is intended for adult audiences. Child care will be provided. Facilitated discussion of the film to follow.

RSVP at https://www.facebook.com/events/423296547807487/

Location: Kenilworth Presbyterian Church, 123 Kenilworth Road, Asheville, N.C. 28803

Wednesday, July 18 from 4 to 6:30 pm: How to use Facebook and Twitter to Increase your Impact

Social media plays an increasingly large role in economic and social justice movements. This workshop, presented by Aaron Sarver of the Campaign for Southern Equality, will teach you how to leverage the power of Facebook and Twitter to communicate your message effectively and inspire your supporters to take action.

After the social media training we’re holding a Smart Phone Workshop. Your phone can help you to: expedite and/or confirm a voter’s registration, access social media, do research and more.

https://www.facebook.com/events/249442388583371/

Location: United Way of Asheville | 50 S French Broad Avenue, Asheville, N.C. 28801

Saturday, June 21 from 11 a.m. to 5 pm: Community Law Workshop at Salisbury Pride

The Campaign for Southern Equality will offer free health care power of attorney clinics at Pride celebrations across North Carolina this summer with the Freedom Center for Social Justice’s LGBTQ Law Center in order to serve the LGBT community in North Carolina.

“The Campaign for Southern Equality is excited to offer this service free of charge at PRIDE events across North Carolina this summer and to partner with the LGBTQ Center. No LGBT person should be without a Health Care Power . . . → Read More: Campaign for Southern Equality events in June

Attorney General’s office responds to Amendment One lawsuit

AG’s office defends ban on same-sex marriage despite rulings from 15 federal courts that such bans are unconstitutional

Today the North Carolina Attorney General’s office formally responded to the Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction in General Synod of the United Church of Christ vs. Cooper, a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of North Carolina’s marriage laws. Plaintiffs in the case requested swift action from the Court due to the immediate and irreparable harms that discriminatory marriage laws inflict upon same-sex couples and clergy every day that these laws remain in effect.

However, in today’s filing the Attorney General’s office argued that the preliminary injunction should be denied, and that the State’s interest in following the law as written outweighs the Plaintiffs’ interest in obtaining immediate relief from these discriminatory laws. The Court could rule on the preliminary injunction in the coming weeks.

“The State fails to acknowledge the harm suffered by the plaintiff couples — a harm recognized by every court that has considered the issue since Windsor. We are sorely disappointed that the State of North Carolina continues to deny equal rights to all of its citizens. Fifteen federal courts in recent months have made clear – emphatically and unequivocally – that it is unconstitutional for state governments to discriminate against loving and committed couples who want the benefits and security that marriage provides,” said Jacob Sussman, an attorney at Tin Fulton Walker & Owen, and lead counsel in the case.

Plaintiffs, Carol Taylor and Betty Mack, a same-sex couple who seek to marry in their church have been in a committed relationship since 1973. They both attend the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville and have a close relationship with their pastor, Reverend Mark Ward, who is also a plaintiff in the . . . → Read More: Attorney General’s office responds to Amendment One lawsuit

More national denominations join Amendment One lawsuit, seeking religious freedom

Alliance of Baptists, Central Conference of American Rabbis, and clergy seek to marry same-sex couples, citing 1st Amendment freedoms

Asheville, N.C. (June 3, 2014) – National religious denominations including the Alliance of Baptists and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, as well as local clergy from All Souls Episcopal Cathedral in Asheville, N.C. and Rabbi Eric Solomon of Beth Meyer Synagogue in have been added as plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of North Carolina’s marriage laws, General Synod of the United Church of Christ vs. Cooper. Attorneys will file documents today in federal district court to formally amend the complaint.

On April 28th General Synod of the United Church of Christ vs. Cooper was filed in the Western District of North Carolina on behalf of the United Church of Christ (UCC) as a national denomination, clergy from across faith traditions, and same-sex couples. The case challenges the constitutionality of marriage laws in North Carolina – including Amendment One – that ban marriage between same-sex couples and make it illegal for clergy to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples within their congregations. This case opens a new front in marriage equality litigation: it is the only case to bring 1st Amendment religious freedom claims among the more than 70 marriage equality cases pending in courts nationally.

The addition of new plaintiffs to the case reflects growing support for marriage equality across faith traditions in the United States. The plaintiffs are represented by the law firms of Tin Fulton Walker & Owen and Arnold & Porter LLP.

“The Alliance of Baptists has always had a strong commitment to religious liberty. And in my opinion, religious liberty is at the heart of the marriage equality debate. A religious majority is passing and/or . . . → Read More: More national denominations join Amendment One lawsuit, seeking religious freedom