Marriage protesters not guilty of trespassing

Three protesters staged sit-in after May 8 amendment approval

Originally published: Sept. 13, 2012, 12:10 p.m.
Published: Sept. 13, 2012, 2:44 p.m.

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Three protesters with the Campaign for Southern Equality were found not guilty of trespassing by a Buncombe County court on Wednesday. Laura Blackley, Cindy Jordan and Craig White had been arrested on May 11 with five others demonstrating against the state’s anti-LGBT constitutional amendment approved by voters on May 8.

Blackley, Jordan and White each asked for marriage licenses at the Buncombe County Register of Deeds but were refused. They and five others then staged a sit-in.

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β€œIt was powerful to see a North Carolina court recognize the fundamental right of LGBT people to petition our government to change discriminatory laws that ban marriage between LGBT couples,” Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, told Asheville’s Citizen-Times. This is one more step in our effort to achieve full equality under the law.”

The Campaign for Southern Equality has organized several past sit-ins and other demonstrations across the state. They plan on expanding their actions across parts of the Southeast this year.

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The five other protesters, Amy Cantrell, Lauren White, Cathleen Johnstone, Sue Walton and Rich Walton, had their charges dismissed on Thursday.

The protesters were represented by Asheville attorneys Meghann Burke and Diane Walton. During the trial, Burke argued that protesters were exercising their constitutionally-protected right to petition the government for equal protection and, therefore, could not be found guilty of trespassing.

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.