CSE is based in Asheville, North Carolina and works across the South to promote full LGBT equality. Through our three-pronged approach, we are telling a new story about LGBT lives in the South. The WE DO Campaign involves LGBT couples requesting marriage licenses in their hometowns across the South in order to call for full equality under federal and state law and to resist discriminatory marriage laws; in a new strategy, married LGBT couples are also recording their legal out-of-state marriage licenses in their home counties to create a public record of their love and commitment.
2. The Hometown Organizing Project helps empower local leaders to promote lived equality in towns across the South, providing resources, training and support in local advocacy, service and visibility projects.
3. Our LGBT Rights Toolkit responds to the daily realities that LGBT people in the South face as a result of being second-class citizens; we provide in-person legal clinics and an online resource center to help LGBT people in the South protect themselves under current laws and get help in times of need.
4. General Synod of the United Church of Christ vs. Cooper: A new federal legal challenge to Amendment One was filed in the Western District of North Carolina on behalf of clergy from across faith traditions, same-sex couples and the United Church of Christ, Alliance of Baptists, Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis as national denominations. This is the only legal challenge to state bans on same-sex marriage that makes a claim of religious freedom under the First Amendment. The Campaign for Southern Equality is honored to be leading the public education campaign about the case.
A New Approach:
Across the South, LGBT people lack basic legal protections, face robust opposition to our rights and have limited resources for advocacy. LGBT people in our region are also at an elevated risk of poverty. Beyond this, the South receives less than five percent of the total annual funding that goes to LGBT organizations nationally. Factors like this contribute to the commonly held belief that the South is “unwinnable” when it comes to LGBT rights.
But we hold a different view and feel deeply hopeful about what’s possible in the South.
1) We believe there is a pressing need for advocacy, legal and crisis response services for LGBT people in the South.
2) We believe that federal equality is the most efficient and effective pathway to equality for LGBT people in the South. We also believe LGBT people and allies in the South are uniquely positioned to accelerate winning full equality on the federal level by directly resisting discriminatory laws and systems.
3) We believe that every person – including those conflicted about or opposed to LGBT rights – can become an ally.
As a result, we’re taking a new approach, building upon a rich legacy of civil rights organizing in the South and working in close partnership with other LGBT and civil rights groups.
This recent op-ed in the Raleigh News & Observer by Rev. Beach-Ferrara explains the strategy behind CSE’s push for LGBT rights in the South.
Based in the South, the Campaign for Southern Equality is a national effort to assert the full humanity and equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in American life and to increase public support for LGBT rights.
CSE’s work is based upon empathic resistance, a new ethic which calls for 1) resisting persecuting systems by expressing the authentic self; and 2) approaching those who oppose your rights with empathy.
CSE was launched as a non-profit in 2011, after a 6 year period of planning and research.
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