Archive for Marriage Equality


Love Won’t Be Denied

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This just hit my inbox. With Attorney General Roy Cooper’s earlier announcement regarding his support for marriage equality, this is going to make for an interesting and historic opportunity.

Buncombe County Register of Deeds Willing to Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses; Requests Attorney General Review

 Asheville, North Carolina. Monday, October 14, 2013

Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger will be the first government official in the South to seek approval to grant same-sex marriage licenses since the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act.

Reisinger will accept and hold same-sex marriage applications and push the question of equal marriage rights to the state’s chief legal adviser, Attorney General Roy Cooper.

“I will let each couple know that it is my hope to grant them a license, but I need to seek the North Carolina Attorney General’s approval,” Reisinger said. “I have concerns about whether we are violating people’s civil rights based on this summer’s Supreme Court decision.

The Campaign for Southern Equality notified Reisinger that at least six same-sex couples would request marriage licenses Tuesday. Reisinger will allow the couples to complete and sign their applications. He will accept the applications but withhold his own signature.

“I will then let the Attorney General know that I would like to issue these couples licenses, but that I need his clarification on the laws of the state that seem to contradict the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution,” Reisinger said.

Tuesday will be the first time same-sex couples have requested marriage licenses from Reisinger since the June 26 Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act.


WE DO Campaign in Asheville on October 15

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This fall, we are traveling North Carolina with the WE DO Campaign, standing with LGBT couples as they request marriage licenses in their home counties. We are actively seeking a Register of Deeds who will issue a marriage license as an act of conscience.

Our tour is bringing us home to Asheville next week, as we join local LGBT couples at the Buncombe County Register of Deeds Office at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, October 15. This will mark the fourth time that Carol McCrory and Brenda Clark have requested a license. Together for 25 years, Brenda and Carol have said they will keep going to the counter until they are served. We’d love to have supporters stand with them and other couples. Come to a Family Dinner on Monday to learn more and get trained for Tuesday’s action:

When: Monday, 10/14 | 6 – 7:30 PM

Where: Friendship Hall, First Congregational UCC, 20 Oak Street, Asheville


Note: Please bring a dish or beverage


Mary and Carole kiss after requesting a marriage license in Henderson County


So far this fall, we’ve been in Madison, Forsyth, Guilford, Henderson and Mecklenburg Counties. In Henderson County, Mary and Carole (pictured here) requested a license after 40 years together; they were denied, but, surrounded by 80 supporters, sent a powerful message that people are calling for full LGBT equality in Henderson County. Read about our action earlier this week in Charlotte here. Upcoming WE DO actions are scheduled for:

  • October 15: Buncombe County
  • November 1: Transylvania County
  • November 4: Cabarrus County
  • November 22: Rowan County


- Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara
Executive Director, Campaign for Southern Equality

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Tomorrow, we will stand with Amanda and Loraine as they ask the Madison County Register of Deeds to issue them a marriage license. With this action, they will be launching a new stage of the WE DO Campaign. In this stage, we are actively seeking a local elected official in the South who is ready to issue a LGBT couple a marriage license because it is the right thing to do. We will be traveling across North Carolina, standing with couples as they seek licenses in person. Couples across the South – from Texas to Alabama – are also writing to their local officials to ask if they will issue a license. We’re taking these actions because we believe that laws like Amendment One are unconstitutional and immoral. We believe it’s time to stand up to such laws in new ways.

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That’s exactly what’s happening in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, where Register of Wills Mr. Bruce Hanes began issuing licenses to same-sex couples a month ago. He believes that the Pennsylvania state law banning same-sex marriage  is unconstitutional and that enforcing it is inconsistent with his oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution. History tells us similar stories – of public officials and leaders who reached a point where they could no longer in good conscience enforce discriminatory laws. Will an elected official in the South stand up in this way? We’re going to keep asking the question and keep taking action to resist laws we know to be discriminatory.

Each elected official we ask to stand with us has a personal choice to make. Whatever their choice, we are committed to treating them with love and empathy. In an era of bitter partisan divides, we have a chance – and, I would say, an obligation – to treat each other differently. All of our work is based on empathic resistance, an ethic that calls for us to make two commitments as we seek equality. First, it calls for us to resist discriminatory laws by expressing who we truly are in public life. Second, it calls for us to express empathy – a recognition of the other’s humanity – in the very moments in which our humanity is denied. Sometimes it is hard to live this ethic out, but if we are seeking recognition of our love, we must also act with love.

That’s what Amanda and Loraine will be doing tomorrow. I’d invite you to read the letter that Amanda wrote to the Madison County Register of Deeds about why she wants to marry Loraine and have their marriage recognized in North Carolina. Her words made me stop in my tracks because they capture so much about what it is to be a LGBT person in the South, and what it means to ask others to stand with us.

Tomorrow, we’ll be sharing updates about what happens at the counter on our Facebook page and through Twitter.

WE DO Marriage Equality Campaign Visits Mississippi

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Tupelo, MS: The Campaign for Southern Equality wrapped up its week-long “WE DO” marriage equality tour through Mississippi in Tupelo on Thursday. CSE visited five Mississippi cities where local gay and lesbian couples applied for marriage licenses knowing they would be turned down, as they were in Tupelo. As they are everywhere CSE goes.

The WE DO campaign puts faces and names to the struggle for marriage equality with an effort designed to garner local media coverage. Opponents easily dismiss “the gay agenda.” But when the local news interviews WE DO couples, dismissing neighbors as “other” becomes more difficult. “It’s hard for them to hate you when they know you,” says Kevin (married to Daniel in Vermont) in a local Special Report.

Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell have highlighted past WE DO campaigns. Last Sunday, CSE’s visit to Mississippi made the front page of the Boston Globe’s Sunday edition, in a report from Poplarville, MS.

The exchange lasted all of 15 minutes. But it seemed an eternity for the young couple who had walkedup the courthouse steps, hands tightly joined, to request a marriage license in this rural southern town.

“Male applicant would be?” asked the clerk with the highlighted bouffant as she peered over her reading glasses at the pair standing on the other side of the counter.

Kristen Welch lifted her chin and declared the obvious: “Neither of us.”

Tupelo, where the the swing through Mississippi concluded, is just miles from the headquarters of the American Family Association. The conservative group took umbrage at CSE’s efforts “to induce pity” for LGBT couples. In its press release, the American Family Association accused CSE, LGBT “and queer couples” demanding marriage equality of “a flagrant disrespect for the democratic process.” Also, for using “deceitful tactics” in claiming a lack of marriage equality for LGBT Americans. By which AFA means homosexuals have the same right to marry someone of the opposite sex as everyone else in America.

(Cross-posted from Crooks and Liars.)

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WE DO Campaign: Across Mississippi right now

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I’m writing from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where we just wrapped up a WE DO Campaign action in which six area LGBT couples requested – and were denied – marriage licenses. This is the third action we’ve done in Mississippi this week and this new video tells the story of Jenna and Kristen’s requesting a license in Poplarville, Miss. earlier this week:

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We’re posting daily updates on the Campaign for Southern Equality’s Facebook page and Twitter feed and invite you to follow this story as we continue on to Jackson and Tupelo for more actions and more free legal clinics next week.

- Jasmine Beach-Ferrara

Executive Director, Campaign for Southern Equality

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imageSo many stories, so little lunchtime. Have at it. I gotta go back to work.

Texas Abortion Bill Filibustered By State Senator Wendy Davis Is Dead

Supreme Court Strikes Down Defense Of Marriage Act


Standing Up to Unjust Laws

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The Campaign for Southern Equality is marching across the south, calling for full federal equality for LGBT citizens. Watch the new video. All of us have a responsibility to be as brave as the couples who are requesting marriage licenses and standing up for a more perfect union. With all of the unjust laws being considered here in North Carolina against the poor, the middle class, minorities, college students, the elderly, pregnant women, etc. – understand that our LGBT compatriots are fighting to speed the day when they will be allowed recognition under the law.

After you watch the video, here’s a link that may help you know what to do next.

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The Campaign for Southern Equality has just released a new WE DO video:

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Ivy and Misha, who live in Piedmont, S.C. and are engaged to be married, show what it means to live with courage and dignity as an LGBT family in the South. And what it means to choose love.

Everyday LGBT people in the South face moments like this, against the backdrop of a political landscape that couldn’t be more dynamic. Buncombe County just passed domestic partner benefits. Next week, our country’s highest court will hear two landmark cases regarding LGBT rights.  Public support for marriage equality is at 58% according to a recent national poll.

- Jasmine Beach-Ferrara

Director, Campaign for Southern Equality

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The Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE) is excited to share that we joined an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court as part of the “Prop 8” and “DOMA” cases, which will be argued before the Court on March 26th and 27th. Filed today, the brief was authored by Paul C. Burke and Brett Tolman, lawyers representing the Utah Pride Center, with assistance provided by Meghann Burke, an Asheville-based attorney with Cogburn & Brazil, who leads CSE’s Legal Team.

Among its arguments, the brief asks the Supreme Court to extend the fundamental right to marry to gay and lesbian Americans, including those who live in Southern states where constitutional bans on marriage equality are in place. Using the case study of Utah laws, the brief speaks to the experience of lesbian and gay Americans in a majority of states – including the entire South – where systems of entrenched legal discrimination treat LGBT people as second-class citizens. The brief states “At every stage of life – from the moment a child has an inkling of being gay, through
adolescence, adulthood, and sometimes beyond the grave – gay Americans are haunted by laws that deny the existence of gay people, demean them as lesser human beings, deprive them of fundamental rights, and denigrate their lives and familial relationships.” The brief urges the Court to dismantle these systems of discrimination.

The brief submitted today to the Supreme Court outlines some of these harms. “The keystone of existing systems of [discrimination against] gay Americans is the denial of the right to marry. It is both the crux of the matter and the root of other forms of legal discrimination against gay citizens. The heartbreaking message to gay couples: Your love and commitment is unworthy of marriage. The deprivation of the right to marry harms gay citizens and . . . marks them with a stigma that has been used to justify other deprivations.”

A total of 28 LGBT advocacy organizations from 23 states, including Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, are signatories to the brief.  CSE is proud to stand with LGBT organizations from so many states.

The entire brief is available for download at:

- Jasmine

Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara

Executive Director, Campaign for Southern Equality

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