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Feb 12, 2013

Equality NC's Town Hall Tour Kicks Off in New Bern

Shawnee & Arielle McPhail

Couple Shawnee (l.) and Arielle McPhail address a packed New Bern crowd during the kickoff of Equality NC's Making Our Voices Count Town Hall Tour. The town hall took place right across the street from the where the McPhails received a letter from a local restaurant owner, condemning their relationship.

NEW BERN - Eastern North Carolina residents packed the Lawson's Landing Cafe last night for Equality NC's New Bern kickoff of the "Making Our Voices Count" Town Hall Tour. Over 40 people attended the town hall meeting to address local concerns about LGBT discrimination and harassment, to organize community leadership, and to engage in local initiatives sponsored by Equality NC and Carteret-Craven PFLAG.

Equality NC chose New Bern to launch its tour after local lesbian couple Arielle and Shawnee McPhail received a letter from a local business owner condemning their relationship. The incident received national attention, and spurred the New Bern area to look for new ways to support its LGBT community.

The McPhails attended the town hall to share their story and inspire community support for local LGBT causes, including providing support and resources for the area's LGBT youth.


"We didn't know that you all were here….this love and this support, people need to feel that…and we're not going anywhere," Shawnee McPhail told the New Bern crowd.

Using the McPhails experience as a launching point, representatives from Equality NC presented ways to get involved, including tips on organizing in New Bern and beyond.

"The work of a true leader does not divide, it unites and builds communities," said Chris Speer, Equality NC's Director of Organizing.

In order to help this community continue to heal, Equality NC has also pledged to publish a list of business establishments in New Bern that have pledged to value Equality for all North Carolinians, including LGBT patrons and employees.

Representatives from Equality NC plan to travel the entire state in February and March 2013 to open a dialogue and reengage residents on LGBT issues. To stay updated on the details on this latest stop on Equality NC’s 2013 “Making Our Voices County” Town Hall Tour, please sign up for our Online Action Network.

The "Making Our Voices Count" Tour is Equality NC’s latest series of statewide town hall meetings devoted to information and discussion surrounding the current state of LGBT issues in and new legislation impacting the Equality of All North Carolinians. Each stop on the Tour not only features an informative presentation, but also a Q&A devoted to the many ways that local communities can become more involved in Equality NC’s current grassroots efforts.

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