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Commentary

The NC Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty reports that the number of exonerations have reached a record pace, with North Carolina in its eighth year without executions. However, the death penalty remains a threat to innocent people “sentenced to die on the thinnest of evidence,” many of whom have been incarcerated for more than 30 years before exoneration.

Cross-posted from the NC Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty:

New death sentences in the U.S. reached a 40-year low in 2014, and North Carolina passed its eight year without an execution. But the most surprising statistics in the Death Penalty Information Center’s year-end report were these:

150 innocent people have now been exonerated after being sentenced to die.

Seven innocents were were freed just this year.

—[Read the whole post from NCCADP here]—

Six of the seven men exonerated this year had served 30 years or more in prison. All were sentenced to die on the thinnest of evidence. An Ohio exonoree was convicted 39 years ago, solely on the testimony of a 12-year-old boy who later recanted.

In North Carolina, nine death-sentenced men have now been exonerated, DPIC says.

The facts are in: The death penalty is a grave threat to the innocent and cannot continue to masquerade as “justice.”

Commentary

Asian Americans and Latinos are the fastest growing minority groups in the country. Particularly in North Carolina, Asian American population has grown more than 80% from 2000 to 2010 (see Advancing Justice’s recent report on the Asian American demographic in the South here), while Hispanic/Latino populations has grown more than 110%, according to the US Census. This growing demographic could have particularly important implications for politicians in the days to come.

Often headlines choose to highlight differences between Asian Americans and Latinos, focusing on language like “Asians overtake Hispanics as largest US immigration group” and reinforcing the “model minority” myth that effectively renders Asian Americans as a political tool against affirmative action.

Lost in translation is common history and solidarity that these communities have shared and common challenges they continue to face.

To bring to the forefront “real clear moments of collaboration between Asian-Americans and Latinos,” NPR’s Latino USA has put together a special report in the form of an hour-long podcast called “Hyphen-Americans.”

Particularly poignant in the podcast, editor-in-chief of Hyphen magazine (a publication focusing on Asian American issues) Abigail Licad summarizes some political collaborations among the Asian and Latino communities in the past including working together on labor movements in the early 20th century (among one of the most iconic collaborations being between Cesar Chavez and Larry Itliong) to collaboration in the undocumented youth movement in recent years.

Listen to the Latino USA podcast here:

News

While same-sex couples finally won the right to marry last week in North Carolina, a Catawba County school decided to cancel a student theater club’s production of the romantic comedy Almost, Maine, which has a scene in which two male characters fall in love.

Principal Rob Bliss of Maiden High School issued a statement on the matter. From WSOC:

“Our faculty and staff are still in review of potential performances to be conducted by our students this fall. At this time, no final decision has been made regarding whether and what drama performances are to be presented this fall. In regards to the request for students to perform the play “Almost Maine,” careful review and consideration was given to the contents of this play. The play contained sexually-explicit overtones and multiple sexual innuendos that are not aligned with our mission and educational objectives.

“As principal of Maiden High School, I have an obligation to ensure that all material, including drama performances is appropriate and educationally sound for students of all ages.”

However, Conner Baker, a junior and the student director for Main Street Players, the school’s theater club, told ThinkProgess that both Bliss and Catawba County Schools Superintendent Dan Brigman had previously given permission for the production. ThinkProgress reports:

Baker told ThinkProgress that the Players had sought approval for Almost, Maine earlier in the school year, receiving it from both Principal Bliss and Catawba County Schools Superintendent Dan Brigman. Brigman and Bliss stipulated, however, that every student wishing to audition or assist with the production must receive parental permission to do so. The club then spent over $300 to reserve the rights and rent the scripts for the show, and followed through on this requirement. Only one student was prevented from auditioning by the permission-slip process. Baker said that the show had already been cast and was beginning rehearsals when the production was canceled last Thursday. She did not personally know who in the community objected to the play’s content.

An online petition started by the students in hopes of convincing the school to let the show go on has already garnered over 1000 signatures.

Is the scene involving the two male characters falling in love inappropriate? Here’s a clip from youtube of the play performed by a school in Florida:

News

From Rockingham County to New Hanover, from Mecklenburg County to Jackson, Register of Deeds offices across North Carolina are issuing their first same-sex marriage licenses this morning.

QNotes reports that as of this morning, all counties are issuing same-sex marriage licenses:

As of Monday morning, all 100 counties in North Carolina were issuing licenses to same-sex couples. Over the weekend, Iredell County Register of Deeds Matt McCall had said he might not issue the licenses, requesting special notice from North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper or other state officials.

The notice came late Sunday evening in an email to all 100 county registers of deeds from officials at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Service.

[…]

“I will be issuing marriage licenses to all applicants,” McCall said after receiving the health department email. “This is the confirmation I’ve been waiting for.”

More on Qnotes

Equality NC has been busy catching up with many couples at the courthouses, taking photos and celebrating. Check out some of their intagram photos below or follow them here.

Equality NC has also compiled some helpful information for those LGBTQ couples looking to get married.

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Legal heroes of winning UCC lawsuit stand with newly married couples and @equalitync staff on #DayOneNC #CLT

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Fred and James getting married in Cumberland County!!!! #DayOneNC

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#DayOneNC #MarriageEquality #Raleigh Gabriella and Shawn looking beautiful while getting married.

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#DayOneNC #MarriageEquality #Raleigh ACLU wedding favors.

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#DayOneNC #MarriageEquality #Raleigh People in the park getting an officiated marriage ceremony with John from UCC.

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News

Shortly after Judge Osteen gave plaintiffs until Monday to respond to intervention of legislative leaders in one same-sex marriage case in Greensboro, a federal judge in the Western District struck down a same-sex marriage ban in a case brought by the United Church of Christ and has denied legislative leaders’ request for intervention. QNotes reports:

A federal judge in North Carolina’s Western District has issued an order permanently prohibiting defendants in a United Church of Christ lawsuit against North Carolina’s anti-LGBT amendment from enforcing the ban. Additionally, the judge denied Republican state leaders’ motion to intervene in the case.

U.S. District Court Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr., issued his two orders shortly after 5 p.m.

“Defendants are PERMANENTLY ENJOINED from enforcing such laws to the extent these laws prohibit a person from marrying another person of the same gender, prohibit recognition of same-sex marriages lawfully solemnized in other States, Territories, or a District of the United States, or seek to punish in any way clergy or other officiants who solemnize the union of same-sex couples,” Cogburn wrote.

More from QNotes

From WRAL

Equality NC has information for LGBTQ couples looking to get married here: http://equalitync.org/marriage/dayone/