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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 . . . → 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, . . . → 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

Mary and Carol

On October 2, 2013, Mary and Carol, residents of Henderson County, North Carolina, will request a marriage license at the Henderson County Register of Deeds’ office as the WE DO Campaign continues to grow across North Carolina. You can read about their life together below as told by Mary:

In 1974, Mary and Carole made a life-long commitment to be there for each other. We each had four children from our previous marriages. In 1974 their ages were 18 to 9. The 1970’s were difficult. We sent more than one psychologist around the world as we went through the process of learning how to cope with angry and confused children and our own homophobia.

As the years passed, our children grew up, got married and gave us 13 grandchildren. Through those years, love won out and today our relationship is celebrated by all. In 2014, we will celebrate our 40th anniversary and our 80th birthdays.

We are excited about having a small part in the “WE DO” campaign in Hendersonville, NC. Never did we dream that in our lifetime marriage of gay people would be discussed or a possibility. After hiding out for many years, we are proud to now stand up for what is fundamentally just and constitutionally right. We believe strongly that all peoples, regardless of sexual orientation, should be able to stand before a judge and say “I do” and in so doing receive the same rights and privileges that married people have both federally and in their states.

Our children and grandchildren, as well as our friends, are thrilled that we are taking this step to speak out for justice. Unfortunately, our children all live a distance. However, one of them is driving to be with us and . . . → Read More: Mary and Carol