Legal Briefs: Decision Day

N.C. group to continue grassroots marriage campaign

An Asheville, N.C.-based grassroots group says it will continue its series of direct actions challenging anti-gay marriage laws across the South, even as the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its ruling on June 26 striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

The Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE) will head to Mississippi in July, pushing on with its WE DO campaign. Its activists include same-sex couples who will request — and be denied — marriage licenses in town clerk offices. Past demonstrations have included instances of civil disobedience and arrest.

The group also plans to promote further legislation by reaching out to local governments, offering free legal clinics and crisis response services, among other methods.

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“Today’s rulings are historic and undoubtedly something to celebrate,” CSE Executive Director Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrera told qnotes. “They shine a light on on a reality that LGBT people across the South lack basic rights.”

Beach-Ferrera says that the CSE will continue to push to achieve full equality for LGBT people in the South.

— Maria Dominguez

Immigrants group praises ruling

The Latin American Coalition praised the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling overturning a portion of a federal law banning same-sex marriage recognition. The ruling, the group said, paves the way for binational same-sex couples to be treated equally under current immigration laws.

National immigration law allows U.S. citizens to sponsor their foreign-born spouses for permanent resident status. Until the landmark ruling, only heterosexual couples could take advantage of that benefit.

“We celebrate this change because it allows families to stay together without the fear of being torn apart by an outdated immigration system,” the Latin American Coalition said in a statement.

The ruling affects binational same-sex couples across the U.S. and in the Carolinas. Read more about the stories of South Carolina Equality Executive Director Ryan Wilson and his husband Shehan Welihindha and Asheville couple Becky Boisvert and Sanne Shijzen at goqnotes.com/23657/.

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— Matt Comer

President Obama responds

President Barack Obama responded positively to the June 26 U.S. Supreme Court decisions on DOMA and Proposition 8.

“I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal — and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

Read the president’s full statement at goqnotes.com/23643/.

— Matt Comer

Leaders mostly silent

State leaders like Gov. Pat McCrory and House Speaker Thom Tillis remained tight-lipped following news of the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings. Local leaders in Charlotte, too, remained mostly silent. Only two Charlotte leaders responded to a qnotes request for comment on the day of the ruling.

Democratic Mecklenburg County Commissioner Dumont Clarke replied, “Welcome news!”

County Commission Vice Chair Kim Ratliff told qnotes her support for the LGBT community was clear.

“I support equality for everyone,” she said. “I don’t believe in discrimination of any kind. I said that back when I was campaigning. I would hope the LGBT community knows that I’m on their side.”

Several Council and Commission leaders were in Houston for an inter-city trip organized by the Charlotte Chamber. Mayor Anthony Foxx, whose U.S. Senate confirmation vote for his nomination as U.S. transportation secretary was approved by the Senate on June 27, also did not release a statement. In April, Foxx said he would release a statement about his position on marriage equality. That statement has never been released. Requests for comment from the mayor, sent to press officials at both The White House and the mayor’s office, were unsuccessful.

— Matt Comer

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