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USA, North Carolina: New County Official Said He Would Give Marriage Licenses to Same Sex Couples

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

North Carolina MapMark Chilton campaigned on a promise to give marriage licenses to gays and lesbians, and he won his election yesterday.

Joe.My.God reports:

Chilton announced earlier this year that, if elected, he would violate state law and the Register of Deeds’ oath of office by issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Doing so could bring misdemeanor charges and removal from office. The real estate attorney said Article 1 and Article 6 of the N.C. Constitution, which includes the oath of office, defer to the U.S. Constitution when there are conflicts. Chilton said he would stop if a court orders it.

So will he keep his word in defiance of state law? Stay tuned…

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Flipping the Script – Why the UCC Lawsuit Could Change Everything

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

UCC LogoIn recent years, the religious and political right in this country has weaponized the Constitution. From bans on gay marriage to the right to own an assault rifle without a background check, the First and Second Amendments, in particular, have been used as a battering ram against equality, fairness and public safety.

You cannot make peace if you do not even know you are in a war, and people of faith and conscience in this country need to realize that the very rights that the Constitution protects are under siege by those who abuse and misuse constitutional guarantees.

This why what the United Church of Christ, my own denomination, has just done matters so much at so many levels. The UCC has taken a bold step in engaging this struggle, right at the heart of the abuse of religious freedom. This church just filed a landmark lawsuit against North Carolina’s ban on gay marriage, arguing that the state’s marriage laws violate the First Amendment rights of clergy and the principle of “free exercise of religion.”

Authored By Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite – See the Full Story at the Huffington Post

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Breaking: United Church of Christ Files Lawsuit Against North Carolina’s Marriage Equality Ban

Monday, April 28th, 2014

North Carolina MapThis just in – a gay-friendly church has filed a lawsuit in North Carolina saying that the ban on marriage equality violates its religious freedom.

The Washington Blade reports:

The United Church of Christ and a group of clergy and same-sex couples on Monday filed a federal lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

The lawsuit — which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina — argues the marriage amendment violates the religious beliefs of denominations and congregants who support the recognition of gay nuptials and clergy who want to perform them. Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, president of the United Church of Christ, and Rev. Nancy Kraft of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Charlotte are among the plaintiffs who attended a Charlotte press conference.

“As a senior minister, I am often asked to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples in my congregation,” said Rev. Joe Hoffman of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Asheville, who is a plaintiff along with Diane Ansley and Cathy McGaughey, two of his congregants who have been together for 14 years. “My denomination — the United Church of Christ — authorizes me to perform these ceremonies, but Amendment One denies my religious freedom by prohibiting me from exercising this right.”

It seems like a great argument – after all, whose religious freedom is more infringed, for-profit business owners who must follow the law in marriage equality states, or actual pastors and ministers who are forbidden from marrying same sex couples in anti-gay marriage state?

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USA, North Carolina: 40% Support Marriage Equality

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

titleA new poll shows that 40% now support marriage equality – a low number, but better than in 2012 when the state passed its ban.

PPP reports:

In 2012 North Carolinians voted by a 22 point margin to ban gay marriage in the state. Now less than 2 years later voters say they oppose gay marriage by only 13 points, mirroring the kind of movement we’ve seen on the issue across the country. 40% say they think it should be legal to 53% who continue to think it should be illegal. Showing the direction things are headed in on the issue, 62% of young voters support it to only 33% who believe it should be illegal. There is increasingly little division among voters in the state about whether gay couples should at least have some sort of legal rights in the form of civil unions. 62% support either marriage or civil unions for same sex couples to only 34% who think they should have no legal recognition at all. 68% of both Democrats and independents support at least civil unions, and even Republicans narrowly do by a 50/48 spread.

Technically speaking, that’s a nine point improvement from 2012′s actual vote. But we have to note that polls in March, 2012, two months before the election, showed a majority (56-60%) opposing the amendment, but in the end it passed with a 61-39% vote.

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USA, North Carolina: ACLU Files New Marriage Equality Lawsuit

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Ellen and PearlHilighting same sex couples facing serious health issues, the ACLU filed another marriage equality lawsuit in the state.

ABC News reports:

The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday launched a new legal assault on North Carolina’s constitutional ban on recognizing same-sex marriage, urging a federal judge to quickly negate it to help children and gay couples suffering from urgent health problems. The civil rights group said it was seeking to speed up a decision in lawsuit filed in 2012 by citing the urgent health needs of a child who suffers from cerebral palsy who was adopted by one of the lesbian couples involved in the case. The ACLU also filed a new lawsuit on behalf of three other lesbian couples struggling with health conditions made more difficult because they lack legal recognition of their marriages performed in other states, said ACLU staff attorney Elizabeth Gill.

Towleroad.com highlights two of the plaintiffs in the new lawsuit, an adorable lesbian couple:

“We don’t have time to wait,” said High Point resident Ellen “Lennie” Gerber, 78, one of the plaintiffs in the suit. “Pearl is 89 and frail. We’ve been treated nicely in High Point, but what if we call 911 in another city? What if I’m not allowed to be there? It would be beyond intolerable if that should happen.” Gerber and Pearl Berlin have been together for 48 years, and married legally last year in Maine. But a hospital could deny Gerber visitation rights because she is not legally recognized as a family member or next of kin in North Carolina.

And why should they have to wait? The case hilights the real damage done to same sex couples by the ban on marriage equality. We shouldn’t have to rely on the kindness of strangers.

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USA, North Carolina: Elected Officials Organizing Around LGBT Rights

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

North Carolina MapA group of NC officials is being organized by the state’s largest gay rights organization to fight for LGBT friendly laws.

Edge Boston reports:

Equality North Carolina announced Tuesday it’s created what’s called “NC Electeds for Equality.” There are initially more than 30 local and state officials such as Attorney General Roy Cooper, State Treasurer Janet Cowell, mayors and legislators.
Equality NC says the group will help officials learn more about issues affecting gays and lesbians and bisexual and transgendered people. Equality NC unveiled the “NC Electeds” group at its annual fundraising gala last weekend.

It’s a heavy lift in a state that fairly recently passed a ban on marriage equality, but you gotta start somewhere.

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USA, North Carolina: Gay, Lesbian Couples Get Marriage Licenses

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Buncombe County Clerk Drew ReisingerSame sex couples lined up in Buncombe County to get unsigned marriage licenses today.

Towleroad.com reports:

An official in western North Carolina has accepted marriage license requests from 10 same-sex couples, despite a 2012 amendment to the state constitution forbidding such marriages. Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger said he will hold the licenses and ask state Attorney General Roy Cooper for legal advice. Reisinger said he thinks the state’s ban is unconstitutional. Cooper said Monday that he supports gay marriage. But he has said he’ll defend the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage. A spokeswoman for Cooper’s office said the marriage licenses cannot be issued.

The Buncombe County Clerk has asked the state AG to answer three questions. The Progressive Pulse reports:

Reisinger has formally asked the Attorney General to give his legal opinion on the following points:

1. Under the precedent created by the Windsor decision by the US Supreme Court, does our current practice of treating North Carolina same sex couples differently than both straight couples in North Carolina and same sex couples married outside of the state violate the federal and North Carolina Equal Protection constitutional clauses?

2. Under Windsor and the US Equal Protection Clause, can I, and Registers of Deeds across North Carolina, begin to provide marriage licenses to same sex couples in North Carolina?

3. Does Section 6, Article XIV of the North Carolina Constitution violate state and federal equal protection requirements?

I’d like to see the AG try to answer no to any of these.

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USA, North Carolina: Buncombe County Giving Marriage Licenses to Gays, While AG Supports Marriage Equality

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

North Carolina Attorney General Roy CooperA couple big stories coming out of North Carolina – first of all, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced he now supports marriage equality. Sort of.

Edge Boston reports:

Attorney General Roy Cooper says he supports gay marriage but argues his personal views aren’t preventing him from vigorously defending North Carolina’s constitutional amendment affirming its prohibition from a lawsuit. Cooper opposed passage of the amendment in 2012 but hadn’t addressed his views on sanctioning gay marriage publicly until now. He said over the weekend “I support marriage equality” when asked by The Associated Press about the topic.

Buncombe County Clerk Drew ReisingerAlso, the Buncombe County register of deeds has announced that he will start giving out marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples today. Sort of.

Towleroad reports:

In response to North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper’s announcement over the weekend that he personally supports marriage equality, the Buncombe County Register of Deeds (Asheville) Drew Reisinger (pictured), says he will accept marriage license applications from same-sex couples tomorrow and seek Cooper’s official opinion. Cooper has said that he will continue to fight challenges to the state’s ban on same-sex marriage despite his personal views.

Q Notes reports: “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 in a release. “I have concerns about whether we are violating people’s civil rights based on this summer’s Supreme Court decision.” Reisinger will accept the license applications but withhold his own signature pending an opinion from state Attorney General Roy Cooper.

Maybe these events will get things moving again in North Carolina.

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USA, North Carolina: Same Sex Couples Request Marriage Licenses

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

North Carolina MapIn an ongoing campaign to bring marriage equality to North Carolina, gay and lesbian couples again requested marriage licenses on Wednesday.

The Charlotte Observer reports:

Three Charlotte-area couples applied for marriage licenses at the Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds Wednesday, knowing there was almost no chance the legal paperwork would be issued. Each same-sex couple – Scott Bishop and Ron Sperry; Rev. Robin Tanner and Rev. Ann Marie Alderman and Joey Howell and Scott Lindsley – went into the local office separately to apply. After checking each couples’ identification, the answer that clerk Robin Maddox gave was the same: “Unfortunately, North Carolina does not allow us to issue to same-sex (couples) … I do apologize, that is the law.”

Are there any brave North Carolina county clerks willing to stand up for what’s right?

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USA, North Carolina: Lesbian Couple Together for 40 Years Denied a Marriage License

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Lesbian Couple North CarolinaA long-term lesbian couple in North Carolina applied for marriage license in Henderson County, and was turned away.

Joe.My.God reports:

“Carole and I are here today to apply for a marriage license,” said 79-year-old Mary Burson, “because we love each other, we’ve been together for 40 years…we’ve raised eight children together and we want to make the commitment that our brothers and sisters that are heterosexual can make.” Burson and her partner, Carole Kaiser, 79, hoped Register of Deeds Nedra Moles would join a county clerk in Pennsylvania who has issued 174 marriage licenses to gay couples, even though that state — like North Carolina — prohibits same-sex unions. “Well, consider is about all I can do, because you both know that according to North Carolina law, I cannot issue the marriage license (to same-sex couples),” Moles said. “I’ve made you a copy of the N.C. General Statute, in case you would like to look at it, but I cannot do this today. So, I must turn you down.”

I mean, look at them. How cute are they? How could anyone turn them down? It would be like saying no to your grandmother.

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