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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.

 

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marriage amendmentThe Fourth Circuit today denied a request by parties defending Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban to stay the court’s ruling in Bostic v. Schaefer pending a petition for review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

On July 28 the court held that the Virginia law was unconstitutional and entered judgement on that date. The ruling is scheduled to go into effect on August 18, 2014.

Michèle B. McQuigg, the  Prince William County Clerk of Circuit Court and a defendant in Bostic, told the court that she intends to file a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court by October 26, 2014, and asked that implementation of the ruling be stayed in the meantime, citing the potential of confusion and inconsistent results:

The absence of a stay will likely produce legal uncertainty and confusion. The Utah marriage case serves as a useful example. In Utah, after the district court struck down the state’s marriage laws, the district court and the Tenth Circuit declined to issue a stay.  As a result, many same-sex couples in Utah obtained marriage licenses pursuant to the district court’s injunction. Days later, however, the Supreme Court stayed the injunction, and Utah’s man-woman marriage laws went back into effect. Thus, the State of Utah now declines to recognize the licenses that were issued to same-sex couples during that interim period.

Same-sex couples who obtained licenses during that period filed a lawsuit in federal court to require the State to recognize those licenses as valid. The district court held that the interim licenses must be recognized, but the Supreme Court again stayed that decision pending appellate resolution. Thus, the validity of those licenses is still in limbo.

For more on the Fourth Circuit’s ruling in Bostic, read here.

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Is such a momentous and historic victory really on the foreseeable horizon? Don’t miss your chance to learn the answers to this and other related related questions this Thursday August 7 at a very special NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation luncheon.

The freedom to marry in North Carolina: Now what?

Featuring Chris Brook, Legal Director of the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation; Jen Jones, Director of Communications and Outreach at Equality North Carolina; and plaintiffs in the court challenge to North Carolina’s marriage discrimination amendment.

Click here to register

When: Thursday, August 7, at noon — Box lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m.

Where: Center for Community Leadership Training Room at the Junior League of Raleigh Building, 711 Hillsborough St. (At the corner of Hillsborough and St. Mary’s streets)

Space is limited – pre-registration required

Cost: $10, admission includes a box lunch

Click here to register

Questions?? Contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or rob@ncpolicywatch.com

- See more at: http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2014/07/31/crucial-conversation-the-freedom-to-marry-in-north-carolina-now-what/#sthash.iFD4jDX6.dpuf
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Gay marriage 2There are two articles worth reading in Raleigh’s News & Observer this morning about Tuesday’s anti-gay speak-out by some conservative pastors.

Chris Sgro of Equality NC is on the editorial page with this excellent post in which he responds to a list of absurd claims. For example:

‘(Marriage equality) is not a trend of the people but a trend of the courts.’ – Dr. Mark Harris, former U.S. Senate candidate and Charlotte pastor

Actually, it’s both. Not only have there been 24 consecutive victories for the freedom to marry since June 2013, but support for marriage equality throughout the nation and North Carolina has never been higher. For example, at the time of Amendment One’s passage in May 2012, 53 percent of North Carolinians supported civil unions and marriage. That number had risen to 63 percent eight months later.

“Courts have put themselves above Almighty God.”

– the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc.

The judges who have ruled on the cases affecting marriage equality have been at every level – from federal to state courts. They are Republican-appointees, Democrat-appointees, liberal and conservative. Regardless of ideology or past ruling history, each of these judges has upheld that same-sex marriage should be legal. It is a constitutional, American, common-sense issue.

Many people of faith support same-sex marriage. There is no “lock” on what religious North Carolinians believe about same-sex marriage. That is why many faith leaders have joined the United Church of Christ and our friends at Campaign for Southern Equality in a suit to protect their religious right to conduct same-sex marriages.

Meanwhile, columnist Barry Saunders takes one of the most outspoken hate purveyors — the Rev. Patrick Wooden — to task in this essay entitled “Rev, let’s quit worrying about gay marriage and focus on real issues.”

To which all a body can say is “Amen.”

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Southern EqaulityA federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled today that the state’s law banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, bringing the number of state marriage amendments overturned in the federal courts this past year to twelve, according to this report by Think Progress. “We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history,” U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III wrote in Whitewood v. Wolf. Jones added:

The issue we resolve today is a divisive one. Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage. However, that same-sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional. Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees.

Read the full opinion here.