North Carolina Hub




United Church of Christ and 12 Clergy File Suit Challenging North Carolina's Gay Marriage Ban

UccThe United Church of Christ, 12 clergy members, and a group of gay couples have filed suit challenging North Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage, the AP reports:

The clergy members say they would like to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies in their congregations, but can't because of the law. The lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in Charlotte includes a dozen clergy members and the United Church of Christ, which has more than 1 million members.

Their attorney, Jake Sussman, says the lawsuit opens a new front in marriage equality litigation. The Rev. J. Bennett Guess says the ban has made is difficult for clergy members to marry same-sex couples: If they do, they know they'll be breaking the law.

The Washington Blade has more: Hoffman

The lawsuit — which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina — argues the marriage amendment violates the religious beliefs of denominations and congregants who support the recognition of gay nuptials and clergy who want to perform them. Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, president of the United Church of Christ, and Rev. Nancy Kraft of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Charlotte are among the plaintiffs who attended a Charlotte press conference.

“As a senior minister, I am often asked to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples in my congregation,” said Rev. Joe Hoffman (pictured) of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Asheville, who is a plaintiff along with Diane Ansley and Cathy McGaughey, two of his congregants who have been together for 14 years. “My denomination — the United Church of Christ — authorizes me to perform these ceremonies, but Amendment One denies my religious freedom by prohibiting me from exercising this right.”

A lawsuit is already underway in North Carolina, filed earlier this month by the ACLU.


North Carolina Teen Booted From Prom For Wearing Pants: VIDEO

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Cherryville High School senior Shafer Rupard got booted from her prom at the Cherryville Golf & County Club in North Carolina when a teacher told her that she was forbidden from wearing pants.

Instead of wearing a dress, Rupard showed up in a cap, black dress shirt, leather jacket and bright red pants. She got to spend five minutes at the prom before being forced to leave.

Rupard’s mother met with the school’s assistant principal to look over the student code of conduct, prom invitation and dress code — none of them mentioned a ban on women wearing pants at prom.

"It's just the way she's always been and she wanted to feel comfortable in her own skin," said Rupard’s mother Shawn McQuaige. "We want to put out the message to all teenagers that you should be allowed to be yourself," said her mother.

Rupard has yet to receive an apology or an explanation from her school.

Watch the newscast AFTER THE JUMP

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Thursday Speed Read: North Carolina, Nate Silver, Rosemary Lehmberg, Brunei, Ohio, Oklahoma

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

TENTH CIRCUIT HEARS SECOND CASE:

OklahomaThe same three-judge panel that heard the lawsuit challenging Utah’s ban on recognition of same-sex marriages today hears a lawsuit challenging Oklahoma’s. Jim Campbell, legal counsel from the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group that has been opposing same-sex marriage, will argue for Oklahoma. Don Holladay, counsel with Holladay & Chilton in Oklahoma City, will argue for the plaintiffs.  Argument begins at 1:30 MDT at the Denver federal courthouse. Each side will get 15 minutes. Audio recordings of the proceedings will be available on the court’s website within 24 hours of adjournment.

U.N. ADMONISHES BRUNEI STONING LAW:

BruneiThe United Nations’ Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement April 11 admonishing the southeast Asian nation of Brunei for revising its penal code to require stoning to death any person convicted of sodomy and other sexually related offenses. The revised code goes into effect April 22. U.N. spokesman Rupert Colville said the revised code “may encourage further violence and discrimination against women and also against people on the basis of sexual orientation.”

OHIO JUDGE SPLITS THE STAY:

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black did as he said he might: He ordered the state of Ohio Wednesday to include the names of both same-sex parents on the birth certificates of children born and adopted to four same-sex couples in a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriages. But he stayed his ruling that the state ban on recognizing marriages of same-sex couples is unconstitutional. The stay will remain pending review by the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. The case, Henry v. Wymyslo, was led by civil rights attorney-activist Al Gerhardstein in Cincinnati.

DON’T MESS WITH ANYBODY IN TEXAS:

LehmbergTexas Republican Governor Rick Perry is into a big-time scrap with lesbian Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat. Lehmberg, who’s gay, is the top prosecutorial officer for Travis County –the same county that runs the state’s Public Integrity Unit which is charged with investigating wrongdoing by state officials. She’s credited with convicting U.S. House Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay in 2010 for money laundering (a case now on appeal to the state’s high court for criminal appeals). But Lehmberg ran into trouble last April when police found her drunk and behind the wheel of a car in a church parking lot. Lehmberg acknowledged guilt, apologized, spent three weeks in jail, and entered a treatment program. But she refused calls from Perry and other Republican leaders to resign. Perry then claimed Lehmberg had “lost the public’s confidence” and vetoed funding for her Public Integrity budget. Texans for Public Justice, a political watchdog group, charged that Perry is breaking the law by trying to coerce Lehmberg’s resignation. And this week, a Texas judge seated a grand jury to look into those allegations. Perry has reported hired a defense attorney.

THE SILVER FORECAST:

SilverOpenly gay political data cruncher Nate Silver yesterday echoed predictions that are being heard more and more frequently these days: Republicans appear poised to take over the Senate in the mid-term elections this November. Silver’s latest model “puts Democratic losses in the Senate at 6.8 seats….”

NORTH CAROLINA SOFTENS:

A poll this month in North Carolina indicates opposition to same-sex couples marrying has softened by eight points in the past two years. In May 2012, 61 percent of voters said yes to a ban on same-sex couples marrying. But a Public Policy Polling survey taken April 3-6 of 740 registered voters found only 53 percent still oppose same-sex marriage.

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


'We Don't Have Time To Wait' Says 78-Year-Old Plaintiff in New NC Marriage Lawsuit

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The ACLU, the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation and the law firms of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP and Ellis & Winters LLP have filed a new suit in federal court on behalf of three married, same-sex couples in North Carolina seeking state recognition of their marriages.

The News-Record reports:

“We don’t have time to wait,” said High Point resident Ellen “Lennie” Gerber, 78, one of the plaintiffs in the suit. “Pearl is 89 and frail. We’ve been treated nicely in High Point, but what if we call 911 in another city? What if I’m not allowed to be there? It would be beyond intolerable if that should happen.”

Gerber and Pearl Berlin have been together for 48 years, and married legally last year in Maine. But a hospital could deny Gerber visitation rights because she is not legally recognized as a family member or next of kin in North Carolina.

The ACLU announced yesterday in a press release:

The ACLU has also sought immediate relief on behalf of one of the couples in the existing Fisher-Borne et al. v. Smith case who have a young child who is being denied critical medical care because North Carolina neither recognizes his mothers' marriage nor allows both mothers to adopt their child and establish a legal relationship.

The ACLU has also sought immediate relief on behalf of one of the couples in the existing Fisher-Borne et al. v. Smith case who have a young child who is being denied critical medical care because North Carolina neither recognizes his mothers' marriage nor allows both mothers to adopt their child and establish a legal relationship.

North Carolina's ban on marriage for same-sex couples prevents the plaintiff couples from securing hundreds of protections provided in both state and federal law to married couples. If one member of the couple were to die before the state recognizes their marriage, the surviving spouse will be forever denied not only these protections but the dignity that respect from the state affords, such as having one's relationship acknowledged forever on a death certificate.

The new case is Gerber and Berlin v. Cooper. The ACLU has more information on the plaintiffs HERE.

Watch a report from the News-Record, HERE.


Students at Catholic HS Reject Nun's Offensive Speech About Homosexuality: VIDEO

Laurel

An assistant theology professor at a Catholic high school in Charlotte, NC has caused a furor among students with a speech about homosexuality. We reported on this back in March but it has since blown up.

The kids aren't having it, and have alerted their parents to the nun's nonsense, USA Today reports:

Administrators at Charlotte Catholic High School met Wednesday with about 900 parents who learned about the March 21 speech from their children, upset at Sister Jane Dominic Laurel's assertion that homosexuality occurs mainly as a result of parents' shortcomings and pornography. Students said the assistant professor of theology at Aquinas College in Nashville, Tenn., told them that single and divorced parents caused kids to become gay; that homosexuals cannot live normal, productive lives; and that gays can't be good parents.

About half of the one-hour talk centered on homosexuality, according to a statement from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte's official newspaper.

Some parents at the 1,400-student school say they wanted to know about the topic of the assembly ahead of time and would not have allowed their kids to stay.

Watch the WCNC report, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Bullied Boy Can Wear 'My Little Pony' Backpack, School Says

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Earlier this week we reported on 9-year-old Grayson Bruce, a student in Asheville, NC who was taunted by his classmates for wearing a "My Little Pony" backpack and then told by his school that he couldn't wear it because it is a "trigger for bullying".

Grayson's story received national attention and now the school has reconsidered after meeting with Grayson's mother on Thursday, USA Today reports:

"We are considering all options for getting Grayson back in school," Bruce said after the meeting. "We are pleased the school system is working closely with us. All of the options include Grayson taking his My Little Pony bag to school."

...Bruce met with superintendent Tony Baldwin and director of student services David Thompson, after which she said she felt "much better."

"We had a real heart-to-heart talk," Bruce said. "I strongly feel we can work together to make things better for Grayson and all the students in our school system."

Bruce said she will work with Thompson to help organize a parent advisory council on bullying.


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