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Lennie and Pearl

Lennie Gerber and Pearl Berlin — Photo credit: ACLU of North Carolina

Michael Biesecker of AP has a wonderfully heartwarming story this morning that’s available in several news outlets about one of the couples leading the legal fight for marriage equality in North Carolina. Pearl Berlin and Lennie Gerber have been together for 48 years and the notion that they might taste victory in the near future as Pearl battles health problems is a very cheering notion.

(As an aside, it should also be pointed out that, in addition to being a plaintiff in the legal challenge to North Carolina’s marriage discrimination amendment, Gerber (on the left) was once one of North Carolina’s finest consumer rights attorneys — she managed the Winston-Salem legal aid office for years and helped save countless people of modest income from various financial predators.)

All that said, it should also be noted that when marriage equality does come, the fight for justice will be far from over. As a our panelists eloquently explained at last week’s Crucial Conversation luncheon on the subject (watch the video here), LGBT North Carolinians can still be summarily fired by their employers because of who they are.  In other words, if same sex couples get the chance to be married in the near future, many will still have to remain in the closet for fear that placing their wedding photo on their desk at work will still get them fired.

And rest assured, even if the courts soon order marriage equality, Paul Stam and the other theocrats in the General Assembly will be doing their utmost to prevent passage of a law banning discrimination in the workplace and/or public accommodations. In other words, there’s a heck of a lot of work still to do.

 

Gay marriage 3It’s been less than two years since North Carolina officially enshrined discrimination in its constitution by passing the execrable Amendment One. Now, less than 24 months later, just as Speaker Thom Tillis famously/infamously predicted, the law seems fast on its way to obsolescence and, ultimately, the dustbin of history.

Yesterday, lawyers with the ACLU of North Carolina asked a federal court to block enforcement of the law on behalf of three same-sex couples seeking recognition of their marriages – a result that developments in other states makes increasingly plausible.

Now, today, new polling shows that a sizable majority of North Carolinians opposes the substance of the discrimination amendment. According to one of the nation’s most accurate polling shops, Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling, not only do 40% of voters (62% of young voters) favor total marriage equality, but:

“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.”

The discrimination amendment, of course, bars even civil unions for same-sex couples. All in all, it’s hard to see how the amendment survives the decade — and maybe even the year. Stay tuned.

Yield: Love conquers everything; let us too, yield to love

This is the final piece in a series of videos by Mimi Schiffman on North Carolina’s Amendment One:

“You know, everybody says it’s just a word, but there’s more to it. There’s a feeling of belonging,” said Jeff Enochs of Charlotte, N.C. “I wanted my state to recognize that we are going to spend the rest of our lives together.”

Watch Jeff and his partner Brian Helms travel to Washington, D.C., the closest place they can legally marry.

The wedding is set to take place just weeks in advance of North Carolina’s primary, in which voters will decide whether to amend the constitution to read: “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”

Production: Mimi Schiffman
Music: Phil Cook & His Feat
Additional Camera: Ben Berry

Mimi Schiffman is a photographer, videographer and multimedia producer pursuing a master’s degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This work is a part of a documentary project she is producing on marriage equality for her thesis. The work is being released in the lead-up to the 2012 North Carolina primaries on May 8, 2012, where voters are asked to decide on a constitutional amendment which could render many established same-gender couples and their families legal strangers in the eyes of the law.

Mimi’s work is being posted on Huffington Post.

The latest high-profile figure to join the fight against Amendment One is George Takei, the actor best known for his portrayal of Mr. Sulu in the television and film series Star Trek.

Takei urged his 350,000 followers on Twitter Friday to work to defeat the proposed amendment to the Constitution that would ban legal recognition for all unmarried couples:

Takei, a vocal proponent of gay rights, expands on his thoughts on his website:

“Unmarried couples could be prohibited from hospital visitations and refused authority on emergency medical and financial decisions if one partner is incapacitated. Health insurance benefits, currently offered to domestic partners, could be stripped away, denying coverage to children and dependents.

America is about inclusion, not exclusion. It is about recognition of our diversity, and the strength that comes of it. Our democratic process, while designed to fulfill the will of the majority, also protects electoral minorities by guaranteeing certain inalienable rights, such as equal protection under the law. Those are the rules of our civil society, and Amendment One seeks to transgress them.

I urge North Carolinians to send a resounding message to the cynical and divisive forces at work behind Amendment One by voting NO on May 8th.”

Early voting on Amendment One (and the other primary races) ends Saturday at 1:00pm.

(Hat tip to Ricky Leung for the story.)

 

Yield: Love conquers everything; let us too, yield to love

This is the third piece in a series of videos by Mimi Schiffman on North Carolina’s Amendment One:

In a small school a little north and a little west of downtown Durham, N.C., a group of eleven-, twelve- and thirteen-year-olds has been busy organizing a field-trip.

Watch as a middle school’s gay-straight alliance, GLOW, for Gay Lesbian or Whatever, embarks on an adventure in civic engagement with real consequences for many of the club’s members.

“They don’t really see kids as having an idea of how they want their future to be like,” said Sarah, a GLOW member, “but when we actually voice our opinion it really does make a difference.”

Production: Mimi Schiffman
Music: Phil Cook & His Feat
Additional Camera: Patrick Mustain and Vanessa Patchett

Special thanks to:
Lisa Joyner
Carolina Friends School
Phil Cook

Mimi Schiffman is a photographer, videographer and multimedia producer pursuing a master’s degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This work is a part of a documentary project she is producing on marriage equality for her thesis. The work is being released in the lead-up to the 2012 North Carolina primaries where voters are asked to decide on a constitutional amendment which could render many established same-gender couples and their families legal strangers in the eyes of the law.

Mimi’s work is being posted on Huffington Post.