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UPDATE on SB 2681 “Religious Freedom Restoration Act”

Background: The Mississippi state Senate has sent SB 2681 to a conference committee with the state House. This bill is similar to legislation in Arizona that has been dubbed as a “Turn Away the Gays” bill.

“Negotiators face a Monday [March 31st] deadline to file a final version of the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 2681). If they don’t meet that deadline, the bill will die,” according to reporting by the Associated Press.

ACTIONS TO OPPOSE SB 2681:

1) Call and email members of the conference committee TODAY:

The Mississippi Capitol Switchboard number is (601) 359-3770. Call and voice your opposition to SB 2681. Be ready to ask to speak with members of the conference committee:

Senators: Polk, Gandy, and Fillingane

Representatives: Gipson, Hood, and Monsour

Call script: “SB 2681 is bad for business in Mississippi and hurts my community. Please oppose this bill.”

2) Please share this graphic on Facebook to alert folks that SB 2681 is still alive!

NC couples “Refuse to Lie” on their state taxes

As part of the “Refuse to Lie” campaign, legally married same-sex couples in North Carolina are jointly filing their state tax returns in North Carolina, despite a directive by the NC Department of Revenue for them to file their taxes as single. The federal government recognizes same-sex marriage but North Carolina continues to ban it.

Kim and Nancy Willow of Buncombe County, NC sent along a short post about why they are participating:

Kim and Nancy Willow 

Fourteen years ago, we realized that we could no longer live a lie. After hiding the truth of our lives and our love for too long, we knew we wanted and needed to share our true selves with the world. Looking back, it is easy to see that living in the closet had a negative impact on every aspect of our lives. Fourteen years later, we’re not going back.

On April 4, 2008 in Niagara Falls, Canada, we were legally married and this year, we’re coming out of the tax closet. The federal government recognizes our marriage, but the state of North Carolina is asking us to lie on our tax returns and file as single (lie #1). In order to do that, we would each have to create a false federal single return to populate the North Carolina state return (lie #2), then sign that return stating it is accurate (lie #3). We don’t need more lies in our lives or in this world.

We are married, plain and simple, and we filed our returns as such. Our tax liability as a married couple is different than that of two single people, and we accept this as part of the rights and responsibilities of marriage. We expect . . . → Read More: NC couples “Refuse to Lie” on their state taxes

Take Action on Mississippi “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (SB 2681)

MARCH 11 UPDATE: The House Judiciary Committee passed SB 2681 in amended form on March 4. The amended version does NOT address concerns about the bill and is still a license to discriminate against LGBT people and on the basis of race. The bill can go to a floor vote through March 12. It’s critical to keep the pressure up each day.

Suggested Tweet for March 12:  “Call your reps now to oppose #sb2681. Find their numbers & info at: http://bit.ly/1gD2jj3 

Read the latest coverage:

BuzzFeed: http://www.buzzfeed.com/tonymerevick/discrimination-concerns-persist-over-mississippi-religious-f Deep South Progressive: http://bit.ly/MTQsnw

Background: The Mississippi state Senate unanimously passed the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” (SB 2681) on Jan. 31 and the House Judiciary Committee is now considering it. This bill is similar to legislation in Arizona that has been dubbed as a “Turn Away the Gays” bill.

ACTIONS TO OPPOSE SB 2681: 1) Call and email your member of the Mississippi House of Representatives TODAY:

Call the MS Capitol Switchboard at (601) 359-3770 to voice your opposition to SB 2681. Be ready to share your representatives’ name.

Call your rep. directly to express opposition. Find your representative, their phone number and email at: http://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/ …

Call script: “I’m a resident of your district and oppose SB 2681, which is bad for business in Mississippi and hurts my community. Please oppose this bill.”

The HRC has a handy email tool for Mississippi residents to contact state House members via email as well: https://secure3.convio.net/hrc/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=1825

2) Post this graphic and this link - http://bit.ly/1gD2jj3 – on your Facebook page and stand against SB 2681.

3) Write a . . . → Read More: Take Action on Mississippi “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (SB 2681)

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

North Carolina Attorney General Cooper should cease to defend Amendment One

CSE banner march

Asheville, N.C. (January 24, 2014) – Yesterday Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced that his office will cease to defend Virginia’s ban against same-sex marriage in a federal lawsuit that is progressing through the courts.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reported that NC Attorney General Roy Cooper will continue to defend Amendment One:

“Cooper said today North Carolina should change its law to allow marriage equality and he believes ‘basic fairness eventually will prevail. However, when legal arguments exist to defend a law, it is the duty of the Office of the Attorney General under North Carolina law to make those arguments in court,’ he said in a written statement.”

“I am hopeful that NC Attorney General Cooper will take the same course of action as Virginia Attorney General Herring and choose not to defend Amendment One, an unjust law that will ultimately be ruled unconstitutional,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality. “Every day that Amendment One remains on the books, same-sex families in North Carolina are harmed because they are denied fundamental rights and protections. We’re calling for full rights and protections under the law immediately for LGBT people. Patience ceases to be a virtue when people are suffering.”

Recent actions by the North Carolina Department of Revenue and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC clearly demonstrate Amendment One’s negative impacts on North Carolina families.

Directive PD-13-1 issued by the North Carolina Department of Revenue states that legally married same-sex couples in North Carolina must file their state taxes separately, despite the fact that they will file federal taxes jointly. Additionally Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC does not offer family coverage plans to legally married same-sex couples due to . . . → Read More: North Carolina Attorney General Cooper should cease to defend Amendment One