The WE DO Campaign involves LGBT couples requesting – and being denied – marriage licenses in their hometowns across the South. We take these actions to call for full equality under federal law and to resist unjust state laws. WE DO actions make the impact of discriminatory laws visible to the general public and illustrate what it looks like when LGBT people are treated as second-class citizens under the law.
The WE DO Campaign will continue to grow across the South until LGBT people achieve full equality under federal law.
Join the WE DO Campaign:
1) Send a message of support to the couples here.
2) Join us for a WE DO action as this campaign grows across the South.
4) Support the WE DO Campaign with a tax-deductible donation.
Stage 1 – Asheville, N.C. from October 3 to 14, 2011
At 12 p.m. on October 3, 2011, Reverend Kathryn Cartledge and Elizabeth Eve, her partner of thirty years, requested a marriage license at the Buncombe County Register of Deeds Office in Asheville, N.C. They were joined by two other couples – Autumn Trama and Amanda McKenzie, and Loraine Allen and Amanda Hilty – as well as a group of sixteen supporters including N.C. State Representatives Susan Fisher and Patsy Keever, Asheville City Council Members Gordon Smith and Brownie Newman, and Reverend Joe Hoffman.
Each of the three couples knew they would be denied a license due to current North Carolina law forbiding same-sex couples from marrying. The couples that applied are in loving, committed relationships; Ms. Trama and Ms. McKenzie, who live in Asheville, have been together for six years and are engaged. Ms. Hilty and Ms. Allen have been in a relationship for more than eleven years and had a private marriage ceremony years ago. According to Ms. Hilty, “Loraine and I have decided it’s time to step up. We will no longer sit idly by, afraid of the consequences. We are proud of who we are, as individuals, as a couple.”
On October 14, the final day of the campaign, Rev. Joe Hoffman and Rev. Cartledge led a public, interfaith blessing of all LGBT families in front of the Buncombe County Courthouse.
Stage 2 – Greenville and Charleston, S.C. from January 17 to 19, 2012
On January 13, three LGBT couples – Michel McVicker and Alyssa Weaver, Pastor Ra’Shawn Barlow-Flournoy and Pastor Kelvin Barlow-Flournoy, and April Whittington and Tanika Jones – requested marriage licenses at the Greenville County Probate Court in Greenville, S.C. Couples was denied because they do not meet the legal requirements for marriage in South Carolina, which stipulate that partners must be of the opposite sex. They were joined by more than 60 supporters, including clergy, LGBT people and allies from both South Carolina and North Carolina. Immediately following the denials, clergy led a Prayer Service for Reconciliation, expressing a belief in the full equality of all LGBT people and extending a message of love and empathy towards those who oppose LGBT rights and whose job it is to enforce discriminatory laws.
On January 19, 2012, Maddy Trilling and Olivia Hope Parris, a same-sex couple in Charleston, S.C., requested and were denied a marriage license. Unfortunately, they were denied the opportunity to even complete a marriage license application form. They were accompanied by a team of supporters, all allies, who stood with them as they took this action. Media coverage of the action is available at this link.
Stage 3 – Eight cities across North Carolina from May 8 to 15, 2012
Following the passage of Amendment One in North Carolina, the WE DO Campaign launched its third stage, continuing to stress that LGBT individuals are treated as second-class citizens and to call for full equality under federal law.
On May 9, 2011 six couples requested marriage licenses at the Wilson County Register of Deeds in Wilson and three couples did so at the Durham County Register of Deeds in Durham. All requests were denied.
On the afternoon of May 10, ten LGBT couples requested and were denied marriage licenses at the Forsyth County Register of Deeds in Winston-Salem. Surrounded by a large crowd who supported and affirmed their actions, these couples held their heads high as they requested licenses. Aly and her partner applied for a marriage license, as their two sons watched. Aly and her partner have visited lawyers to gain some legal protections, but Aly explains: “We don’t have any of the over 1,100 federal rights and protections afforded to others through civil marriage, and we’ll only truly know the strength of our legal agreements when one of us dies, when it’s too late to fix any errors or weak points in our documents.” Another couple, Diana and Li, had a beautiful marriage ceremony in front of over 85 close friends and family members in 2011. They took action to show that they should also be legally wed. You can read more about Aly and her partner here and Diana and Li here.
After being denied a marriage license with her partner, Mary Jamis began a planned, peaceful sit in, joined by a member of another couple and their friend and ally, Mary Lee Bradford. The sit in led to the arrest of Jamis and Bradford on trespassing charges.
On May 11, a total of 18 couples applied for marriage licenses at the Mitchell County Register of Deeds in Bakersville, Madison County Register of Deeds in Marshall, and Buncombe County Register of Deeds in Asheville. Subsequent to the denials of licenses in Asheville, a group of eight individuals – including two participating couples and four of their supporters – conducted a planned, peaceful sit in at the Register of Deeds Office. This led to their arrest on trespassing charges.
Several of these couples have held marriage ceremonies or are legally married in other states. Shuli and Betsy have been legally married since 2004 in Massachusetts, where they once lived. In 2008, Cindy and Laura were legally married in California. Kadee and Ashley celebrated their marriage ceremony in 2006 and have a son and daughter. In 2000, Loraine and Amanda commemorated their love at an outdoor wedding ceremony, and they reflect that, “Many people have said that if we consider ourselves married then that is what counts, but they fail to realize that the responsibilities one proudly assumes when marrying another is also a law given right that we, as a same sex couple, are not granted.”
On May 14th, one couple requested and was denied a marriage license at the Randolph County Register of Deeds in Asheboro, North Carolina. Barb and Angela took this action as a same-sex couple wanted to give voice to the legal discrimination that LGBT individuals face every day.
On May 15, 2012, the final day of Stage 3 of the WE DO campaign, two couples requested and were denied marriage licenses at the Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds in Charlotte, the largest city in North Carolina. Supporters cheered on these brave couples as they took action for equality. Sally and Alice, who have been together for 29 years, reflect: “We spent some time the next day processing the experience, and realized that when we stood at that counter asking for our right to marry, that we stood for every gay couple that we know.”
Stage 4 – seven states across the South from January 2 to 17, 2013
In January 2013, the Campaign for Southern Equality traveled across seven Southern states for Stage 4 of the WE DO Campaign.