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Mary and Starr stand up to Amendment One

Mary Jamis and Starr Johnson are among the married same-sex couples in North Carolina who will jointly file their state taxes this year as part of the “Refuse to Lie” campaign; they are able to jointly file their federal taxes, which resulted in a $4,000 savings for the couple this year.

Mary said, “Starr and I are fortunate to live and work in a community surrounded by family and friends who acknowledge, support, and celebrate our relationship as a married couple. But the reality is that, due to Amendment One, we continue to be denied many of the basic rights and privileges that are afforded to opposite-sex married couples.”

Mary and Starr were married in New York last year.

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.

Equality NC has a petition up, asking Governor McCrory to support a consistent tax policy:  joint tax filings for all legally-married couples living in North Carolina.

The Refuse to Lie Campaign was launched in 2011 by Nadine Smith, Executive Director of Equality Florida. The Campaign for Southern Equality has expanded the campaign to North Carolina this tax season, adding a range of tax-based actions that LGBT couples and allies can take to express opposition to North Carolina’s tax policies.

Jessica and Amber

On Tuesday, March 25th in Jackson, Mississippi same-sex couples will apply for marriage licenses as part of the WE DO Campaign. Jessica and Amber are one of the those couples that will bravely walk into the Hinds County Courthouse and ask to be treated as full and equal citizens.

You can read about why they are taking this action as told by Jessica:

There are many things in this world that separate, divide, and hurt. Here in Mississippi, we see all kinds of pain and suffering on a daily basis. Poverty, illness, violence, helplessness… But there is one hope to which we can all cling, one lifeline that keeps us together, keeps us strong enough to make it through– Love. The power of Love is and has always been the common thread that holds the tapestry of humanity together, the only force strong enough to withstand the ferocity of fear. My sweetheart and I will celebrate seven years as a couple this July, and we have been truly blessed to experience this Love that weathers storms and grows gardens. That is why, as we have already done in the eyes of God, we wish to marry, this time under the law, with the same rights of marriage that other Mississippi married couples are provided. We’d like to know that when one of us has an emergency, there will be no questions about the other being by her side. We want to be confident that if ever one of us is unable to make decisions, no questions will arise about who else to turn to. And when asked if we are married, we pray for the day there will be no awkward hesitation, but a very firm and celebratory “Yes!” to anyone who asks! People who . . . → Read More: Jessica and Amber

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

NC couples stand up to Amendment One on Valentine's Day

Two married same-sex couples from Buncombe County, North Carolina braved the snow today to record their legal marriage licenses at the Register of Deeds office as part of the WE DO Campaign.

Matt and Shannon have been together for 9 years and were married last fall in Matt’s home state of Minnesota.

Al and Rebecca were married in Connecticut on June 4, 2012. They celebrated with a sweet treat, because it’s Valentine’s Day.

By creating a public record of their love and commitment, these couples are highlighting the reality that the federal government recognizes their marriage while NC refuses to.

The WE DO Campaign will hit the road to Jackson, Mississippi on March 25th.

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 stays . . . → Read More: Virginia Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage Highlights That North Carolina’s Amendment One is Unconstitutional