Asheville, NC – At 12 PM on October 3, 2011, Reverend Kathryn Cartledge and Elizabeth Eve, her partner of thirty years, will request a marriage license at the Buncombe County Register of Deeds Office in Asheville, NC. Rev. Cartledge and Ms. Eve will be joined by two other same-sex couples who will request licenses and a group of supporters including Representative Susan Fisher, Representative Patsy Keever, Asheville City Council Member Gordon Smith, and Reverend Joe Hoffman.
Rev. Cartledge and Ms. Eve will be denied a license because they are two women and current North Carolina law forbids issuing a license to same-sex couples. They are prepared for this response, and will be back again to request a license on another day as part of the WE DO Campaign, which calls for full equality under the law for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Organized by the Campaign for Southern Equality, the campaign involves over a dozen couples’ requesting licenses between October 3 and 14, 2011 in Asheville, NC. Each couple will be accompanied by a team of supporters, including clergy, elected officials, and community members.
“I'm taking part in the WE DO Campaign because we ought to be celebrating families rather than devaluing them. Committed couples who want to access legal benefits that go along with a state-recognized relationship ought to be able to do so, “ says Gordon Smith, Asheville City Council Member.
Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality and a candidate for ordination in the United Church of Christ, says, “Today, we launch an effort that will grow across the South. The WE DO Campaign is about people having the courage to stand up to laws that are immoral and unjust. The people taking part in this action are called to act not just on their own behalf but on behalf of the large and diverse community of LGBT people in our state, many of whom cannot be out because of very real concerns about their safety and security – from the gay youth who endures bullying at school each day to the transgender person who is not protected from employment discrimination.”
On October 14, the final day of the campaign, Rev. Joe Hoffman and Rev. Cartledge will lead a public, interfaith blessing of all LGBT families at Roger McGuire Green, in front of the Buncombe County Courthouse. They will be joined by clergy from across faith traditions and from across the country. Following the blessing, clergy and community members will lead a large public action.
Rev. Joe Hoffman says, “For me, this is an act of faith, of saying that we are all equal in God's eyes, and we who believe this must live that truth. We who are allies must support our LGBT friends as they act with great courage, and we must struggle alongside them until our laws catch up with reality. And we will treat those who oppose us with respect and empathy while at the same time not allowing injustice to go unchallenged. This is what I understand the way of Jesus to be. It is hard to do – to love those who oppose us – but this is what I believe we are called to do.”
Rev. Cartledge, age 65, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and followed her call to ordained ministry in the United Church of Christ after a career of public service in the military and as an officer in the Atlanta Police Department. Ms. Eve, age 66, works as a massage therapist and is a small business owner. Raised in Alabama, she has vivid memories of the Klu Klux Klan’s holding Friday night rallies in her hometown during the Jim Crow era. For Ms. Eve, the choice to participate in the WE DO Campaign could be traced to lessons she learned as a child in the Deep South. “I’m involved because discrimination is a terrible thing – it eats away at your soul,” she says.
Having raised two daughters, Cartledge and Eve now have four grandchildren, who often visit the home the couple built on several acres of land in Asheville. Rev. Cartledge and Ms. Eve describe their life as simple and blessed and, three decades into their life together, would like to marry. “I have lived an authentic life,” Cartledge says, “and I am convinced that only love can change the heart of someone who thinks I am less than equal.”
The Campaign for Southern Equality will provide ongoing support to those taking action. “This marks a new chapter in the movement to achieve LGBT rights,” Beach-Ferrara says. “Our state legislature has just voted in support of a proposed amendment to our constitution that would ban any kind of relationship recognition for same-sex couples. Our state courts are similarly hostile to LGBT rights currently. There comes a time when we are called to resist unjust laws and this is such a time. We will take action until our message – that we are fully equal – echoes throughout our entire nation, including the corridors of Congress and the White House.“