IBM Tells State Leaders to Stop NC's RFRA
By Jen Jones on 04/17/2015 @ 08:00 PM
With two so-called "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" (or RFRA) bills -- Senate Bill 550 and House Bill 348 -- still being considered in North Carolina, IBM's top North Carolina executive is the latest business behemoth to tell state lawmakers and Gov. Pat McCrory that the corporation strongly opposes the proposed legislation.
IBM, which employs thousands at its Research Triangle Park campus and more statewide, opposes the so-called "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" (or RFRA) because it would promote discrimination, executive Robert Greenberg said in a letter to Gov. McCrory posted on the company's website.
"IBM is opposed to discrimination against anyone on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation or religion. We urge you to work with the Legislature to ensure that any legislation in this area is not discriminatory," Greenberg wrote.
Equality NC's Chris Sgro immediately applauded the move by the tech giant, which joins over hundreds of companies that have opposed these discriminatory laws.
"We applaud IBM's decision to speak out in opposition to so-called 'religious freedoms' legislation in North Carolina," said Sgro. "The proposed legislation is detrimental to the citizens of the Old North State, as well as to our ability to attract and retain the best and brightest employees and businesses. It is no surprise to see the backlash across the nation from companies like IBM, Apple, American Airlines, and others against these bad-for-business legislation. We hope that Governor McCrory will continue to oppose RFRA measures and veto anything that comes across his desk along these lines. We know that from the tech hub in the Triangle, to financial services in Charlotte, to tourism at the coast and mountains and everywhere in between, the business voice here will oppose such measures."
Tech Giant Red Hat Attacks NC's RFRA
By Jen Jones on 04/15/2015 @ 11:00 AM
With two so-called "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" (or RFRA) bills -- Senate Bill 550 and House Bill 348 -- still being considered in North Carolina, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst has issued a statement attacking what he calls "divisive legislation." The bills could allow North Carolina businesses to discriminate against LGBT people.
"Red Hat has always believed in diversity, inclusion, and equality of voices - not only for our associates, but also our partners, customers, the broader technology industry, and the communities where we live and work," Whitehurst said.
"Our business is deeply rooted in the principles of collaboration and inclusion, where people from diverse backgrounds and experiences come together to share ideas, challenge the status quo, and spur innovation. We've seen first hand the impact of this collaboration among diverse groups of people. We cannot see any economic benefit from divisive legislation, and would prefer to see more attention given to issues that would have a demonstrable positive impact on all citizens."
The tech giant's (NYSE: RHT) headquarters are based in Raleigh, and the company is widely recognized for its diversity practices in hiring, recruiting and benefits.
NC Council of Churches Opposes "License to Discriminate"
By Jen Jones on 04/03/2015 @ 04:00 PM
Religious freedom or using religion to justify discrimination?
By George Reed
Discussions in recent days of so-called religious freedom bills in Indiana, Arkansas, and now North Carolina raise issues – both legal and pastoral – which the NC Council of Churches has been addressing for many years.
The legal context
The first words of the Bill of Rights are the religious liberty clauses: “Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The so-called Free Exercise Clause prohibits government from interfering in the practice of religion.
But constitutional rights are not absolute. So, for example, in the 1870s, the courts ruled that Mormons could believe that they were called to practice polygamy, but federal laws banning polygamy trumped the practice of polygamy even though based on sincerely held beliefs.
Over the years, the US Supreme Court established a standard for Free Exercise cases: Government could “substantially burden” someone’s practice of their faith only if there were a “compelling state interest” in doing so and if the limitation being imposed was the “least restrictive” manner of achieving that interest.
In 1990, the US Supreme Court replaced that standard with a must less restrictive one, i.e., it made it much easier for the state to infringe on people’s free exercise of religion. In response, Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which did nothing more than restore the standards of substantial burden, compelling state interest and least restrictive manner.
The US Supreme Court ruled that Congress couldn’t made the standards applicable to the states, but the Court left open the option of states adopting their own RFRAs. Several did; North Carolina did not.
Where the Council stands
In 1998, the NC Council of Churches adopted a policy statement entitled “Religious Liberty” in which we called for the “passage of a state law, comparable to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which would prohibit restrictions on religious freedom unless the state is using the least restrictive way to achieve a compelling state interest.”
Our concern, and that of many groups at that time, was that the change in Free Exercise standards would lead to significant limitations on religious liberty and could especially encourage discrimination against “small and/or unpopular religious groups.” The statement mentioned impacts on practices by, among others, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Native Americans, Orthodox Jews, and Muslims. The full statement contains helpful information on the history of Free Exercise cases, the possible ramifications of the loss of the compelling state interest standard, and recommendations for protecting religious liberty, including the passage of a “pure RFRA-like statute” in North Carolina. It also warned against exceptions in RFRA laws that would discriminate against one category of people, prisoners. Click here to read the full statement.
In recent days, state RFRAs have reappeared, but this time being promoted by people opposed to same-gender marriage and worried about its increasing legal and social acceptance. The concern that has been voiced is for people in the marriage “industry” – caterers, florists, wedding directors, etc. – who might be forced to provide wedding services to couples whose weddings are contrary to their religious beliefs. Such a law has brought widespread attention to the state of Indiana, and similar bills have been introduced in North Carolina.
The Council remains committed to the protection of religious liberty and remains especially concerned that there be protection from discrimination against adherents of small, uninfluential, and/or unpopular denominations and faiths. At the same time, over the decades, we have voiced our opposition to all forms of discrimination, including those based on race, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Click here to read our 1992 statement on discrimination based on sexual orientation.
As currently written, the North Carolina bills would permit discrimination based on religious beliefs, not just regarding sexual orientation, but also race/ethnicity, religion, and other factors. So, for example, a florist whose religious beliefs were in opposition to inter-racial marriages or inter-faith marriages or second marriages for divorced people would be permitted to use those beliefs to refuse to serve such couples.
While we continue to support the concept of a state law that is equivalent to the federal RFRA, the bills introduced recently in North Carolina differ significantly from the federal law in scope and impact. For example, the NC bills omit the word “substantial” in speaking of the burden imposed, and they refer to a government interest “of the highest magnitude.”
We will oppose any legislation which would permit religious beliefs to be used as a justification for discrimination.
American Airlines Signals it Will Fight NC's RFRA
By Jen Jones on 04/01/2015 @ 03:00 PM
On Monday, American Airlines signaled it would fight North Carolina's RFRA legislation – just as it opposed a similar bill in Arizona that was vetoed last year by then-Gov. Jan Brewer. American CEO Doug Parker had raised the prospect of cutting flights in Arizona if the legislation had gone into effect.
“We believe no individual should be refused service or employment because of gender identity or sexual orientation,” American Airlines spokeswoman Michelle Mohr said in a statement. “…Laws like this will harm the economies of the states in which they are enacted, and would ultimately be a step in the wrong direction for a society that seeks tolerance, peace and prosperity for all.”
American Airlines has its second-largest hub in Charlotte and employs thousands in the Queen City.
Myriad Media's Cope Calls RFRA Bills "Discrimination"
By Jen Jones on 04/01/2015 @ 11:00 AM
The negative attention facing North Carolina's proposed RFRA bills keeps piling on after Tony Cope—co-owner of Myriad Media, a Raleigh-based production company—posted the following blog expressing his disappointment over bills he calls "discrimination."
"I want to provide a small business perspective on this issue. Will Feichter and I started Myriad Media 22 years ago. We now have 20 people in Raleigh, 17 in Vancouver, and we’re working on an office in NYC.
Despite all the growth, there is an absolute truth: Your people make you successful. I love every person on our team, and we are humbled to consider these marvelous folks our co-workers.
Because of this, we could imagine no greater insult than to infringe on anyone’s personal choices. In fact, the only discussion we would ever have with a co-worker regarding their lifestyle is if we could offer some measure of support.
That is our issue with these hostile bills:
How can we foster a healthy work-life balance when our legislature feels that those decisions should be at the discretion of a stranger’s religious expressions?
And how can we recruit and maintain top-level talent with that kind of culture? Our state is currently creating a hostile environment for many North Carolinians. The respectful environment we strive to build at Myriad can not compete with a dysfunctional community.
These legislative efforts, whether or not they pass, tell people that North Carolina does not care for a specific group of people. As a small business owner, it is my responsibility to show that I am adamantly opposed to this message, and that Myriad will always honor a person’s right to guide their own life.
Should this push away a would-be or existing client, we will consider it as avoiding business relationships that aren’t a healthy fit for our culture. We will always fight against discrimination.
Years ago, our country had a discussion about who has the right to be served at the lunch counter. North Carolina came out on the wrong side of that argument, and it resulted in decades of damaged reputation and lack of trust.
Here we are again, having the same argument, fighting again to be on the wrong side of history. Only this time, I know what damage it can cause to a business.
The current attempt to define “religious freedom” as some special class of freedom only serves as an excuse to minimize the freedoms of others. There’s nothing more sacred than the freedom of each person to guide their own life and personal choices.
That’s a fight we are very happy to be public about."
Help Equality NC Keep Up the Pace
By Chris Sgro on 03/04/2015 @ 10:00 AM
Can you please chip in to help us financially right now?
You've probably seen or heard us all over the news and on social media.
We've been fighting hard for LGBT protections in Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte throughout the year, as well as continuing our ongoing education and advocacy work in every corner of the state.
(Even now, we're headed back to the capital to try to stop anti-LGBT legislation at the General Assembly.)
In 2015, we're calling out extremists at the legislature. Working with legislative champions to make positive changes. Providing state and national exposure to North Carolina's fusion movement and activism. And turning our attention to passing local protections in your communities where being able to live, work, and raise a family free of discrimination is most important, even as we gear up to fight for a statewide LGBT-inclusive employment law this year. One question: Can you please chip in to help us financially right now?
Now we need your help. We need your financial support to keep up this frenetic pace -- plain and simple. Chip in $10 or more now.
This is what we all signed up for. Let us know you're with us. Please, go to our donate page: equalitync.org/action/donate
Your individual investments are our #1 source of funding for the activism you've seen thus far in 2015. And we need your help to keep this work going, and keep our dream of building a state of equality alive and well.
Gay and Transgender Charlotteans Are Under Attack
By Chris Sgro on 02/12/2015 @ 10:00 AM
Anti-LGBT forces in our state are targeting gay and transgender Charlotteans. We need your help right now.
The same extreme group that spearheaded our state's marriage ban, has now set its sights on preventing elected leaders from updating non-discrimination ordinances to protect gay and transgender Charlotteans in public accommodations. To do so, they're spreading misinformation and outright lies about our community.
The Charlotte City Council will vote on these protections on February 23, at 6:30 p.m. and we need our fair-minded supporters at that meeting.
But we can't wait. The other side is calling and emailing Charlotte's leaders right now. We need to make sure fair-minded voices are heard in support of these important protections. For more on these protections, why they're important, and how to talk about them, please click here.
Call or email Charlotte's leaders today:
Mayor Dan Clodfelter
Mayor Pro Tem Michael D. Barnes
Claire Green Fallon
Patsy B. Kinsey
Gregory A. Phipps
John N. Autry
Edmund H. Driggs
And don't forget to join us on February 23, at 6:30 p.m., at the Charlotte City Council meeting (Charlotte Mecklenburg Gov't Center, 600 E. Fourth Street) to show your support for equality for all Charlotteans.
THINGS TO KNOW:
The purpose of these updates is to safeguard the opportunity of all Charlotteans to be free from all forms of arbitrary discrimination, including discrimination based on real or perceived race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, sex, gender identity, gender expression, religion, sexual orientation, disability, marital or family status.
The updated non-discrimination ordinances would protect people from arbitrary discrimination in public accommodations, commercial contracting and passenger vehicles for hire.
It is important to understand that more than 200 cities in states across the United States— like Kansas City, MO, Gainesville, FL and Kalamazoo, MI— have already passed and successfully implemented these ordinances, with no increase in public safety incidents. Charlotte is one of only 3 of the nation’s 20 largest cities that does not have inclusive non-discrimination ordinances protecting LGBT people in public accommodations and fair housing.
Updated non-discrimination ordinances will strengthen the community by fostering an atmosphere of respect and inclusivity. It will send the message that Charlotte is a welcoming place to live, work, and raise a family.
North Carolina’s planned ‘religious freedom’ bills waste time, money on unfairness
By Chris Sgro on 01/23/2015 @ 10:00 AM
On the same day that legislators returned for their 2015 session, there was an ominous announcement.
Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam, one of the leading anti-LGBT voices in our legislature, told reporters that on January 28th there would be a legislative briefing on so-called "religious freedom" legislation.
We've seen these "turn away the gays" bills in other states -- but the one suggested in North Carolina could be much worse. This legislation could allow our state officials to decline services to the LGBT community.
That's why we need your help.
Take a moment to check out my op-ed in the News & Observer previewing this legislation, its potential impact, and why we'll be fighting any "license to discriminate" with everything we've got.
As I said in the piece, when public servants can deny any North Carolinians service, that’s not religious freedom, that's discrimination, plain and simple. And we must be ready for whatever comes next week.
Until then, please share this op-ed on Facebook and Twitter and spread the word about what this legislation could mean for our state.
And don't forget to check your email daily for more ways to get involved both inside and outside of the North Carolina General Assembly. We'll be in touch next week.
What It's Costing States to Fight Marriage Equality
By Jen Jones on 01/13/2015 @ 10:00 AM
The Progressive Pulse's Sharon McCloskey shares the hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars paid -- and millions still pending -- for states to defend unconstitutional bans on the freedom to marry.
As same-sex marriage bans continue to fall in the courts, states on the losing side of the battle are finding themselves on the hook for attorneys’ fees incurred by proponents of marriage equality, to the tune of more than $800,000 thus far, according to Zoe Tillman in this National Law Journal post.
And requests for millions more are still pending in cases making their way through the appellate courts, Tillman notes.
Learn more at here.
Honoring World AIDS Day
By Jen Jones on 12/01/2014 @ 10:00 AM
Today is December 1, 2014 -- World AIDS Day -- a global recognition for the continuous fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic. On this day each year, we offer our support to those who are living with HIV and honor those who are no longer with us.
First started in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first health day to be recognized globally. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2013, there are approximately 35 million people around the world with HIV, half of whom are women and 10% are children under the age of 15. It is estimated that more than one million people in the U.S. are living with HIV. In 2012, 1.9 million people lost their lives to AIDS-related illnesses, bringing the total to more than 35 million lives lost.
Education, preventative practices and health screenings are critical when it comes to stopping the spread of the disease – almost 1 in 6 unaware they are infected. Through education and outreach efforts and scientific advances that number, along with the number of transmittal cases, are dwindling.
Nevertheless, 36,500 people live with HIV/AIDS in North Carolina.
Today, we honor those who we’ve lost to HIV/AIDS and continue our fight for accessible and inclusive care by partnering with our friends at the North Carolina AIDS Action Network to make sure our state leaders understand the impact of HIV/AIDS on constituents across the state.
We Remember: Transgender Day of Remembrance
By Jen Jones on 11/19/2014 @ 10:00 AM
On November 20, the state will come together to remember transgender individuals lost to violence in 2014.
Join Equality NC and our partners as we participate in the 2014 Transgender Day of Remembrance, Thursday, November 20.
This year, Equality NC is partnering with many amazing groups, including the Transgender Initiative of the LGBT Center of Raleigh and LGBTQ Center of Durham, Human Rights Campaign of North Carolina, Time Out Youth, ENC Foothills and others, to sponsor events that commemorate TDoR, memorialize those we've lost, and recommit to our collective pledge to never stop fighting for transgender equality in North Carolina and beyond.
North Carolina's Transgender Day of Remembrance is a statewide effort, also including events hosted by our affiliate ENC Foothills in Hickory, by our friends at Time Out Youth in Charlotte, and an annual event in Greensboro.
WHAT: TDoR Candlelight Vigil
WHERE: CCB Plaza (115 Market St., Durham, NC 27701)
WHEN: Events begin at 6 p.m.
WHAT: TDoR Candlelight Vigil
WHERE: Belk Centrum Theatre (625 7th Avenue NE, Hickory, NC 28601)
WHEN: Events begin at 6:30 p.m.
TRIAD VIGIL (Greensboro)
WHAT: TDoR Candlelight Vigil
WHERE: 1821 Lendew St., Greensboro, NC 27408
WHEN: Events begin at 7 p.m.
WHAT: TDoR Candlelight Vigil
WHERE: Time Out Youth (2320 N Davidson St Unit A, Charlotte, North Carolina 28205)
WHEN: Events begin at 7 p.m.
No matter who you are or where you live, please honor our Transgender Day of Remembrance, on November 20, by attending an event near you (#TDoR).
Pittenger: OK to fire gays
By Jen Jones on 09/18/2014 @ 11:00 AM
An editorial from yesterday's Charlotte Observer reminded me of some pretty hateful statements from N.C. Congressman Robert Pittenger (as well as some harsh realities for our gay and transgender workers):
Is it OK for a company to fire someone solely because he is gay? U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger of Charlotte thinks so. It’s one of “the freedoms we enjoy” as Americans, he says. Private employers should have the freedom to discriminate against employees based on their sexual orientation, Pittenger says, and government shouldn’t take that ability away.
Read more of The Charlotte Observer editorial here.
Not only does Pittenger think everyone should be able to fire gay people for being gay, comparing it at a recent town hall to the ability to smoke at the workplace, but the former businessman believes we're already protected from being fired.
Newsflash, Congressman: North Carolinians who are gay and transgender can be fired simply for being gay or transgender. They join LGBT Americans in 29 states without workplace protections.
It's time to take action. Donate $29 dollars today to Equality NC for every state that still needs protections from "bad apple bosses" like Rep. Robert Pittenger.
When you do, you'll be investing in an organization that's been working tirelessly for decades to protect gay and transgender North Carolinians in the workplace...and the only organization focused on passing these protections statewide at the North Carolina legislature in 2015.
With your support today, we'll be better able to do our job of bringing those workplace protections home as soon as possible. Because we know not everyone discriminates against LGBT people in the workplace -- but we need your help right now to stop the bad apple bosses who do. Donate now:
Charlotte Observer: LGBT Workplace Protections "Not a Partisan Issue"
By Jen Jones on 09/16/2014 @ 11:00 AM
On Tuesday, September 16, 2014, The Charlotte Observer editorial board took on recent comments by U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger of Charlotte who compared firing gays to the ability to smoke in the workplace, by calling on the state legislature to update current policies to protect gay and transgender workers.
In its "Our View" section, the editorial board of North Carolina's most circulated newspaper told its readers on Tuesday, "Most of North Carolina’s companies get it; discriminating based on sexual orientation threatens a business’ ability to attract and retain the best talent. Yet North Carolina is one of 29 states that allow gay workers to be fired for that reason alone."
It added, "The legislature, backed by business and a majority of the public, should change that next session. Equal opportunity, after all, is really not a partisan issue."
Read more of The Charlotte Observer editorial here.
For almost a decade Equality NC has led the charge to update current non-discrimination policies to include protections for gay and transgender employees. The organization will take up the effort again during the 2015 legislative session.
By Jen Jones on 08/28/2014 @ 11:00 AM
Yesterday we delivered over 10,000 petitions demanding North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory stop defending our state's marriage ban -- more signatures than any petition drive of its kind before it, in any other state.
You answered the call. You took action. You signed on for Equality in record numbers.
The media smelled a story. And throughout the day, they demanded to know where Gov. McCrory stood on allowing the freedom to marry in North Carolina.
By the end of the day, he conceded, "We're going to let the process work. During that process we ought to have a stay to allow the current law to remain in place, but this is going to the Supreme Court for all the states."
We're still looking for clarity from our governor. In the meantime, we won't sit idly by and wait. And we hope you won't either.
There's plenty of work to do to prepare North Carolina for marriage and beyond, including getting all of us engaged in protecting our workers, our livelihoods, our students, our children, our families, our health, and our safety.
And we're readying to deliver this too. But we need your help to keep the momentum going.
I promise - we won't stop fighting for Equality until the message is finally received.
Thanks for standing with us yesterday, today, and always,
Everyone Deserves the Freedom to Marry
By Rep. Grier Martin on 08/26/2014 @ 11:00 AM
Rep. Grier Martin is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan and a member of the N.C. General Assembly representing the state's 34th House District. He and his wife Louise live in Raleigh. They believe every North Carolinian deserves the freedom to marry. Here's why.
Experience is the preeminent teacher in life. When you decide to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, a simulator can only tell you so much about the experience, it is the first jump that truly teaches you what to expect. The same is true when you take the jump and have your first child. Your parents and books can provide advice, but it sleepless nights and countless visits to the pediatrician with umpteen questions that help you understand what it is to truly be a parent.
The recent 4th Circuit Court decision in Bostic v. Schaefer stated, “The choice of whether and whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individual’s life. Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot countenance.”
My decision to marry was one of the most personal, and important, decision of my life up to that point, as it was the same for my wife. All other decisions that we have made since — whether joining the military, running for elective office, joining the board of community organizations — were driven by our shared desire to serve and build a more equitable North Carolina that works for all of our citizens.
My decision to marry was based on love.
After my wife, Louise, and I were married, experience taught us much about what makes a committed, faithful union, as well as what that union meant for both of our lives. With that knowledge and understanding, we both understand more deeply than ever that our friends who were gay had unions that were as meaningful and committed as ours. It begged the question — when their love was equal to ours, why were they being denied the same legal rights that we had only because we happened to be born straight?
After 9/11, I volunteered for active duty with the Army and served as a paratrooper out of a sense of duty to our country and our freedom. While in the service I met men and women who were willing to die to protect our freedoms — including the freedom to marry — who were unable to have the full range of freedoms that others held dear. This struck my wife and I as deeply unfair. Rarely has this been more evident than in the case of Tracy Dice Johnson, who lost her partner, Donna, to a suicide bomber in Afghanistan, and then was denied death benefits because she lived in North Carolina. While the case was ultimately decided in favor of Tracy, imagine the trauma of having to add concern over benefits on top of an unimaginable loss.
The birth of our daughter, Sara, was ultimately the pivotal moment in how we considered service to our community and the impact that we are trying to have on the future of our state. As do all parents, we began to ask ourselves what kind of world would we leave for Sara and her friends. We hope to see schools that provide more opportunity for each student, universities that are accessible to students from every walk of life, and drinking water free of hazardous chemicals. But my wife and I also believe that it is important that we foster a society that respects the love and commitment of all couples. After all, our children will be looking back at the decisions that we make with the same skeptical eye that we once cast on our own parents and the decisions that they made during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.
On behalf of my family, friends, and my fellow veterans, and for my daughter and her friends, I applaud the Bostic v. Schaefer decision and Attorney General Cooper’s decision to no longer defend the ruling--and urge the Legislature and Governor to follow the lead of the Attorney General in acknowledging that no reasonable legal defense of the misguided “Amendment One” remains following the ruling.
After all, everyone deserves the right to make the personal decision to love — and have the same freedoms and protections as their neighbors, friends, and family.
--Rep. Grier Martin, Raleigh, N.C.
What Will Make You Act Now?
By Jen Jones on 08/13/2014 @ 07:00 AM
TAKE ACTION: Tell Gov. McCrory - All Families Deserve Respect. Stop Defending Marriage Discrimination. Stop Defending Amendment One.
Sometimes it's hard to know what will inspire people to take action.
But North Carolina's Senator Norm Sanderson made one thing clear: we need to act right now.
Last Friday, Sanderson told a North Carolina crowd that plans are in place to impeach Attorney General Roy Cooper because he opposes marriage inequality. You read that right: supporting equality for all North Carolinians is now considered an impeachable offense. Enough is enough.
Head to our website, sign the petition, and join thousands of North Carolinians who are asking Gov. McCrory to return our state to the right side of history by dropping any defense of our state's marriage equality ban. It takes 30 seconds. And it's that easy.
No matter where you live in North Carolina, we'll hand deliver your message to the Governor.
One click over + your signature will send a strong message to our state leaders that not one of our taxpayer dollars should go toward discriminating against North Carolinians, including those who support, and would benefit from, marriage equality.
Sometimes it's really that easy to take action. So what are you waiting for? Head over to our website, sign the petition, and show your support for equality in North Carolina. Really, we can't tell you how much we'll appreciate it -- alongside tens of thousands of grateful North Carolina couples who are waiting for their chance at equality.
Our goal is to deliver 10,000 signatures in two weeks. So, once you've signed, please forward to 10 friends and encourage them to join North Carolina's movement for marriage.
INVEST NOW: Get Your State of Equality Tank
By Jen Jones on 08/07/2014 @ 09:00 AM
You can't fight for equality without a tank...top. Once you've invested in equality, you'll bring us [that] much closer to our goal of raising $10,000 during our 4th Circuit #MarriageMoneybomb *and* turning our recent marriage momentum into a lasting movement for equality in North Carolina.
Become a $10 or more Equality NC monthly sustainer right now and we'll send you our limited edition "State of Equality" tank top.
All you have to do is click here, enter your name, contact information, and payment information, and click "once a month" on a $10 (or more) sustaining donation to get the tank of the summer (only available *this summer).
Don't forget to tell us your favorite size (either S, M, L, XL, 2XL) and color (cranberry, evergreen, indigo, coffee, gray) by checking the "in honor of" box and entering that very important information in the "name" box.
Once you've invested in equality, you'll bring us [that] much closer to our goal of raising $10,000 during our 4th Circuit #MarriageMoneybomb *and* turning our recent marriage momentum into a lasting movement for equality in North Carolina.
CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS: 2014 Charlotte PRIDE
By Ben Church on 08/06/2014 @ 09:00 AM
Charlotte PRIDE is THE BIGGEST PRIDE in the Carolinas. With an expected attendance of over 100,000 participants, we know you don’t want to miss this fun-filled event.
And what better way to enjoy PRIDE, than to volunteer with Equality NC, YOUR Statewide LGBT advocacy organization in the center of the action at the Equality NC PRIDE Pavillion.
We know your time is valuable. And we promise, volunteering with Equality NC is a win-win experience:
You'll have the best time making new friends, looking great in your FREE "State of Equality" t-shirt, all while giving your time to the only organization dedicated to fighting for rights and justice for all LGBT North Carolinians.
TO VOLUNTEER, CONTACT: Email Ben at Ben@equalitync.org
WHAT: Charlotte PRIDE 2014
WHEN: Saturday August 16, and/or Sunday, August 17
WHERE: In Uptown | S Tryon St. Between 3rd & Stonewall | Charlotte, NC
OPINION: A Telling Protest of Pastors Against Marriage Equality
By Chris Sgro on 07/17/2014 @ 09:00 AM
This op-ed was originally printed in the July 17, 2014, edition of the Raleigh News & Observer.
Any day now the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond appears poised to uphold a lower court ruling that would not only topple Virginia’s marriage ban, but could provide precedent to overturn bans on the freedom to marry in multiple states, including North Carolina.
In protest, representatives from the anti-gay, state chapter of the American Pastors Network rallied in Raleigh this week to decry what they called a “judicial coup d etat” that threatens their “hard-fought, traditional marriage victory,” better known as the broadly worded 2012 constitutional rewrite, Amendment One.
The purported purpose for the sparsely attended event? To demand that Gov. Pat McCrory “not capitulate to judicial heresy” and defend Amendment One should the federal appeals courts once again rule in favor of equality.
It’s worth pointing out though that the press conference – much like the pro-Amendment One effort itself – seemed as much about political pandering and trotting out half truths than speaking to the most pressing concerns of North Carolinians.
Some of the more specious claims proffered by the presser’s participants, included:
“(Marriage equality) is not a trend of the people but a trend of the courts.” - Former candidate for U.S. Senate and Charlotte reverand, Dr. Mark Harris
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 (May 2012), 53% of North Carolinians supported civil unions and marriage. That number had risen to 63% eight months later in February 2013.
“Courts have put themselves above Almighty God.” – Rev. Mark Creech, Executive Director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc.
The judges who have ruled on the cases impacting marriage equality have been at every level - from federal to state courts. They are Republican-appointees, Democrat-appointees, liberal and conservative. Regardless of idealogy 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 are also supportive of 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.
Marriage inequality will mean fewer “government handouts.” – Rev. Patrick Wooden, Upper Room Church of God in Christ
Amid these tales told by press conference speakers — who juxtaposed their event in between where the governor does his business, and where the legislative leadership is currently doing theirs — a more disturbing, narrative was woven.
Again and again speakers like Rev. Creech maligned North Carolina’s sitting Attorney General for not being passionate enough in his defense of what is quickly becoming a Constitutionally indefensible law; they accused the North Carolina NAACP of having “demagogued the issue” for speaking out against Amendment One side-by-side with faith communities all across the state; and they even called into question the conservatism of Republicans who opposed the broadly-worded marriage ban in the first place.
The message seemed clear: if you support the freedom to marry, you could never do your job as an elected official, you could never faithfully represent your community, and you could certainly never call yourself a Republican. Unfortunately for them, more and more moderate leaders in both parties support marriage equality because it is about freedom.
The speakers appeared a bit lost, though, when posed with the question of the day from reporters: Wouldn’t it be a waste of taxpayer dollars and North Carolina resources to defend Amendment One if the 4th Circuit overrules the law?
As Harris returned to the podium to respond, lawmakers inside the nearby General Assembly building were struggling to agree on how exactly we should pay our existing bills, presumably unaware that they might soon be asked to pay for a Supreme Court lawsuit.
But all was not lost. Rev. Creech seemed to encapsulate what can be considered a historic moment when he turned to his small audience to say, “there is no substitute for marriage.”
We couldn’t agree more.
Equality NC Remembers Windsor
By Jen Jones on 06/26/2014 @ 01:12 PM
Do you remember where you were when the Supreme Court struck down DOMA, bringing federal marriage equality to loving couples nationwide?
I'll never forget: one year ago today, I was behind my computer at the Equality NC offices in Raleigh, surrounded by a room full of excited staffers, and with the final ruling, all you could hear were audible gasps, cheers, typing, and calls as we frantically tried to alert folks of the historic result and what it could mean for people like you, your friends, your family.
After all, just yesterday, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Utah's ban on the freedom to marry, and, in doing so paved the way for marriage equality across multiple states.
Any day now, our 4th Circuit could do the same, ruling in favor of marriage in Virginia, and setting the stage for the freedom to marry in North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia.
Do me a favor? Share this blog to five friends right now. (Just like you did with the good news a year ago.)
Other Equality NC staffers share "where they were" on the day DOMA was struck down:
"I had been at work a little while when I heard the announcement on NPR. I immediately called Craig to tell him, and we shared in the excitement of the landmark decision and how it would ultimately impact our own freedom to marry and to jointly adopt our son. It was thrilling to have such a major, positive step forward. It was a moment where I could feel the arc of the moral universe actually bending, bending ...." - Shawn Long, Office Manager, Equality NC
"I was at the ENC office with my colleagues listening to the decision, trying to decipher what it meant for everyone." - Melissa Cartwright, Director of Development, Equality NC