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Mobile couples denied marriage license

Imagine trying to plan a wedding, only to find out that your right to marry has been placed in limbo.

That’s exactly what happened to two couples in Mobile County, Alabama last week after the Alabama Supreme Court effectively stopped local officials Alabama from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The one county that wasn’t covered in their order was Mobile County, but Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis refused to issue marriage licenses. Starting the day after the Alabama Supreme Court ruling he has denied licenses to both gay and straight couples.

On Friday, March 6 two couples – Julie & Dottie and April & Molly – went to pick up marriage licenses in Mobile County. They weren’t served.

The Alabama Supreme Court ruling is a direct challenge to several orders in favor of marriage equality by U.S. District Judge Callie Granade. Both the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to stay Granade’s original order, and marriage equality was supposed to go into effect statewide on February 9.

The state Supreme Court’s order halting marriages for gay couples came as a surprise to advocates, who see the move as violating the supremacy clause in the U.S. Constitution, which delineates that state judges are bound by the U.S. Constitution. Since it was interpreted that the Constitution guarantees marriage rights for same-sex couples in a federal jurisdiction covering Alabama, it follows that state judges and other officials must comply with that interpretation.

“Whenever state law conflicts with federal law, federal law wins,” David Kennedy, one of the attorneys in the case that struck down the marriage ban, told

A group of legal organizations led by National Center for Lesbian Rights has petitioned to amend a federal lawsuit, making it class action. . . . → Read More: Mobile couples denied marriage license

Calling for Equality in Mississippi

On March 11th, the Mississippi state House amended SB 2681 (the controversial Arizona-style anti-gay bill) to remove the broad and vague “religious exemption” section of the bill before sending the bill to a study committee. We’ll keep an eye out for further developments, but for now, we’ve beaten back this bill.

Carolyn and Christina were married at the Stonewall Inn in NYC on March 11th!

Thank you to thousands of folks all across Mississippi, like Carolyn and Christina, who took action by calling, writing and emailing their elected officials about SB 2681. Following on the heels of the fight against SB 2681, the Campaign for Southern Equality is returning to Jackson, Mississippi for a WE DO Campaign action on March 25th and a series of public events to advocate for equality.

3/21: Legal clinic at OUTLaw Conference at Ole Miss, Oxford 3/23: WE DO Campaign training, Safe Harbor UCC Church, Flowood 3/24: WE DO Campaign training, Millsaps College, Jackson 3/25: WE DO action, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m., Jackson; public lecture on LGBT rights at Milsaps College, 7 p.m. 3/26: Rally for LGBT rights in downtown Jackson led by groups from across Mississippi at noon; Family Dinner (community organizing event) Hattiesburg from 7 – 9 p.m.

As we did last summer when we took action in Poplarville, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Jackson and Tupelo, we’ll stand with LGBT couples as they step into the public square to call for full equality. Joined by family, friends and clergy, they will send a powerful message that growing numbers of people all across the South are standing on the right side of history.

LGBT couples in Hattiesburg participate in the WE DO Campaign.

You’ll find all the upcoming events in Mississippi listed here:

. . . → Read More: Calling for Equality in Mississippi

Southern LGBT Organizers Gather at 1st Annual Conference

On February 28 and March 1, more than 200 organizers from 8 Southern states will converge in Asheville, NC, for the 1st annual LGBT* in the South conference.

The Campaign for Southern Equality is excited to partner with the Hart Law Group and the National Center for Lesbian Rights on the conference. Co-sponsors and organizations are participating by running an amazing line up of trainings during the conference.

Join us for a day of FREE hands-on workshops and panel discussions about LGBT advocacy and organizing in the South.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 28th: The sessions will focus on LGBT law and are designed for attorneys; legal professionals; service providers; staff/leadership of LGBT* organizations. FRIDAY IS NOW FULL AND REGISTRATION IS CLOSED.

SATURDAY, MARCH 1st: The Saturday portion of the conference will feature 14 separate trainings and interactive panels designed to build skills and allows organizers working in the South to learn from each other and connect. SATURDAY TRAININGS ARE OFFERED FREE TO ALL. Pre-registration is closed, but if you wish to attend on Saturday, you can register on Saturday morning starting at 8:15 a.m.

*Saturday registration and check in are required for all attendees* in the atrium of the First Congregational UCC in downtown Asheville (20 Oak Street).

The organizations participating in the conference include:

The Hart Law Group, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Equality Federation, Equality Florida, First Congregational UCC of Asheville, Freedom to Marry, Gender Benders, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, National LGBT Bar Association, Marriage Equality USA, South Carolina Equality, Western NC Citizens for an End to Institutional Bigotry, the ACLU of NC, Freedom Center for Social Justice’s LGBTQ Law Center, Planned Parenthood of North Carolina, Utah Pride Center, Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville, Southerners on New Ground, Western NC AIDS Project, . . . → Read More: Southern LGBT Organizers Gather at 1st Annual Conference

Virginia Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage Highlights That North Carolina's Amendment One is Unconstitutional

Asheville, N.C. (February 14, 2014) – Last night, Judge Arenda Wright Allen of U.S. District Court in Virginia struck down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage stating that it is in violation of the U.S. Constitution. In striking down the law, Judge Wright wrote, “Our Constitution declares that ‘all men’ are created equal.” In her 41-page opinion, she also struck at the heart of the law, “Gay and lesbian individuals share the same capacity as heterosexual individuals to form, preserve and celebrate loving, intimate and lasting relationships.”

This move, along with recent court rulings in Kentucky, Oklahoma and Utah striking down state bans on same-sex marriage, highlights that North Carolina’s Amendment One is also unconstitutional.

Furthermore, just this week the Governor and Attorney General of Nevada ceased to defend their state’s ban on same-sex marriage. “After thoughtful review and analysis, the state has determined that its arguments grounded upon equal protection and due process are no longer sustainable,” said Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto on February 11. Prior to the court ruling in Virginia, Attorney General Mark Herring’s office refused to defend Virginia’s ban against same-sex marriage.

The Campaign for Southern Equality is calling for North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper to take the same course of action.

“Week by week it becomes increasingly clear that Amendment One and states’ bans on same-sex marriage are in violation of the U.S. Constitution. It is time for NC Attorney General Cooper to cease his defense of Amendment One, an unjust law that will ultimately be ruled unconstitutional,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality.

“The sole purpose of Amendment One is to deny lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals equal rights and protections under the law. Every day that it . . . → Read More: Virginia Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage Highlights That North Carolina’s Amendment One is Unconstitutional

The 7 best equality photos from the Moral March

On Saturday, 80,000 to a 100,000 people made history at the Moral March in Raleigh, NC. People from all over NC and across the country joined the NC NAACP in marching for a fair and just North Carolina and yes that included LGBT rights!

David and Gary traveled down from Buncombe County to march for equality. The state of North Carolina does not recognize their marriage.

Carmen representing the WE DO Campaign, which calls for full equality under the law for LGBT individuals and families.

LGBT supporters and allies sent a message to elected officials in Raleigh with their visible presence. Amendment One may remain on the books for now, but someday soon in North Carolina, LGBT people will be full and equal citizens under the law.

Sue shows straight allies how it should be done with her homemade “Love Will Win” headband.

You know the song – someday in North Carolina LGBT couples will have the legal right to put a ring on it.

Speakers from The Campaign for Southern Equality, Equality NC and the Freedom Center for Social Justice spoke to the crowd about LGBT issues. From left to right, Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Chris Sgro and Bishop Tonyia Rawls.

The message of love & respect for LGBT people was loud and clear from Rev. Barber, head of the NC NAACP.

. . . → Read More: The 7 best equality photos from the Moral March