Archive for Marriage Equality


The Other is marrying

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It seems marriage equality is still on the move, scoring victories Wednesday in Kansas and South Carolina:

Gay marriage advocates won another two victories on Wednesday as the U.S. Supreme Court allowed Kansas to become the 33rd U.S. state where same-sex couples can wed and a federal judge struck down South Carolina’s ban.

The high court declined a request from Kansas officials to block U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Crabtree’s Nov. 4 ruling that struck down the state’s gay marriage ban as a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.

And, by the way, a hearing on marriage equality Wednesday in Mississippi. From Aaron Sarver at Campaign for Southern Equality just last night:

After 6 hours in federal court today, U.S. District Court Judge Carlton W. Reeves concluded the hearing in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant by stating he would rule “as soon as possible” in the case.

We’re hopeful that a ruling striking down Mississippi’s ban on same-sex marriage will indeed come soon.

All this rush of inclusion has a darker counterpoint. JT Eberhard writes at the WWJTDo blog about the reaction to a letter in the local paper:

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Gaming Democracy

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Last night, judges once again struck down another state’s photo ID law. This time in Arkansas:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas’ highest court on Wednesday struck down a state law that requires voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot, ruling the requirement unconstitutional just days before early voting begins.

In a decision that could have major implications in the Nov. 4 election, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that determined the law unconstitutionally added a requirement for voting.

The high court noted the Arkansas Constitution lists specific requirements to vote: that a person be a citizen of both the U.S. and Arkansas, be at least 18 years old and be lawfully registered. Anything beyond that amounts to a new requirement and is therefore unconstitutional, the court ruled.

Similar rulings have occurred with Republican voting laws in Pennsylvania (January), Wisconsin, and Texas, although the Texas ruling by the U.S. District Court was overturned yesterday by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The day before the Wisconsin ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed North Carolina to implement its ban on same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting. The state’s sweeping voting bill goes to trial next summer. The mixed rulings may have more to do more with timing than principle:

Despite the flurry of high court rulings, many legal analysts and some judges say the Supreme Court’s actions are less about broad voting rights principles than telling federal judges to butt out, particularly so close to Election Day. In each of the cases where the justices acted, lower federal courts had issued orders that would have changed the rules for elections just weeks away, potentially causing confusion among voters and election officials.

You have to wonder when (and if) the light bulb will come on in the public consciousness. Our moneyed lords and their Republican vassals oppose the very idea of democracy for fear of the peasants peeing on the furniture. The succession of court challenges overturning photo ID laws and marriage equality bans follows a pattern seen in Republican-led states across the country, certainly here in North Carolina. GOP legislatures feel empowered (and directed) to push the constitution and established rules to the limits and beyond, and they dare anyone to stop them. As president-elect George W. Bush quipped, “If this were a dictatorship, it’d be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.” Was that a Kinsley gaffe?

Charlie Pierce in Esquire on the GOP mining democracy [emphasis mine]:

Simply put, the Republican party deliberately has transformed itself from the Party of Lincoln to the Party of I’ve Got Mine, Jack. And it rarely, if ever, gets called to account for that. As a result, and without substantial notice or paying a substantial price, and on many issues, individual Republicans have been able to justify the benefits they’ve received from government activity that they now oppose in theory and in practice. This is not “hypocrisy.” That is too mild a word. This is the regulatory capture of the government for personal benefit. That it makes a lie, again and again, of the basic principles of modern conservatism — indeed, that it shows those principles to be a sham — is certainly worthy of notice and debate. It is certainly worthy of notice and debate that the conservative idea of the benefits of a political commonwealth means those benefits run only one way. Modern conservatism is not about making the government smaller. It’s about making the government exclusive.

They are bent on gaming democracy the way they game capitalism.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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The Sudetenland will rise again

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Last October, Asheville, NC introduced America to Don Yelton on The Daily Show. You remember? The clip where Aasif Mandvi asked Yelton, “You know that we can hear you, right?” after the Republican precinct chair’s remark about “lazy blacks.”

This October, it’s a swastika photoshopped in front of city hall. Asheville is nothing if not colorful.

Known for its hipster arts scene, craft beer culture, and LGBT-friendly atmosphere, Asheville was dubbed “a cesspool of sin” in 2011 by James Forrester, the late Republican state senator. (You could buy tee shirts within hours.) As local gay couples on Thursday anticipated a federal order allowing same-sex marriages for the first time in North Carolina, city council members approved displaying a large rainbow flag from city hall. The local register’s office began issuing licenses late Friday.

So once more unto the breach, two Republican culture warriors — both known for publicity stunts — stepped up to strike back by photoshopping a Nazi flag in place of an image of the rainbow flag. The Sudetenland will rise again or something.

The two Republicans, former city councilman Carl Mumpower and former Buncombe County GOP chairman Chad Nesbitt, criticized the move saying the Asheville City Council’s decision to fly the flag (the council voted unanimously to display it) violated North Carolina open meeting laws.

“I am equating their methods with the Nazi movement,” Mumpower said according to the North Carolina newspaper. “They are indifferent to the rule of law and indifferent to the vote of the people. And that’s Adolph [sic] Hitler all over again in a different disguise.”

These proud, local characters stand as living proof that hippies and fall leaves are not the only local color in town.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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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.

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