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Phone: 828.242.1559
Email: info@southernequality.org Snail mail: PO Box 364, Asheville, NC 28802

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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

Summer Schedule of Community Law Workshops

During 2014, the Campaign for Southern Equality will offer at least 12 free Community Law Workshops (CLW). The goal of a CLW is to empower LGBT people in the South to protect our rights to the full extent possible under current laws.

CLWs take two forms: (1) community education sessions led by attorneys about special topics in LGBT law, such as name changes and family rights; and (2) legal clinics at which volunteer attorneys provide pro bono services. We are proud to collaborate with community partners and law firms to provide these free workshops.

Starting in June 2014, CSE is also excited to launch a partnership with the Freedom Center for Social Justice’s LGBTQ Law Center to jointly provide free health care power of attorney clinics at Pride celebrations across North Carolina.

UPCOMING CLWs:

Salisbury Pride (June 21, Salisbury, NC); Health Care Power of Attorney offered with LGBTQ Law Center. Rebirth Church (July 12, Charlotte, NC); Health Care Power of Attorney. Gender Benders Summer Camp (July 18, Piedmont, SC); Name change & Health Care Power of Attorney offered Charlotte Black Gay Pride (July 19, Charlotte, NC); Health Care Power of Attorney offered. Charlotte Pride (August 16, Charlotte, NC); Health Care Power of Attorney offered with LGBTQ Law Center. Blue Ridge Pride (October 4, Asheville, NC); Health Care Power of Attorney offered with LGBTQ Law Center. Pride Winston-Salem (October 18, Winston-Salem, NC); Health Care Power of Attorney offered with LGBTQ Law Center.

(Attorney Diane Walton leads a CLW in Gulfport, Mississippi.)

2014 Completed Community Law Workshops

Topic: Stand up for Equality When You File Your NC Taxes (February 5, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.)

Led by: Todd Greene, CPA of Brader Greene

Location: First Congregational UCC | 20 Oak Street, Asheville, NC, . . . → Read More: Summer Schedule of Community Law Workshops

Raleigh WE DO action

Same-Sex Couples Call for Marriage Rights on 2nd Anniversary of Amendment One

On May 8 local same-sex couples will apply for marriage licenses at the Wake County Register of Deeds Office. They will be joined by legally-married same-sex couples who will pay $26 to record their out-of-state marriage licenses in order to create a public record of their legal marriage.

Trudy and Justine Price-O’Neil of Wake County are among the couples that will record their Massachusetts marriage license at the Wake County Register of Deeds office. Together for a decade, they are mothers to a two-year-old and are both teachers. Trudy Price O’Neil will be honored as Enloe High School Teacher of the Year at a ceremony on Thursday evening.

“While the federal government recognizes our marriage, it’s important to us that our home state of North Carolina does too,” says Justine Price-O’Neil. “This matters for reasons like state taxes and insurance policies, but also for our little girl to have two legal parents, and so she can know without a doubt that her family is just as valid and important as everyone else’s.”

Trudy and Justine with their daughter

The couples will be joined by family and clergy from across faith traditions, such as Rev. Nancy Petty of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh and Rev. Doug Long, Trudy and Justine’s pastor at Umstead Park United Church of Christ, who will stand in support of them as they record their license. This action takes place two years to the day since the passage of Amendment One, North Carolina’s Constitutional ban against same-sex marriage.

Join us for a series of events this week as we stand up to Amendment One.

“Every day that Amendment One remains on the books it hurts families . . . → Read More: Raleigh WE DO action

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 . . . → Read More: NC couples “Refuse to Lie” on their state taxes