LGBT in the South Conference draws leaders from 8 southern states to Asheville

Here’s the press release from the Campaign for Southern Equality:

Asheville, N.C. (February 20, 2014) – On February 28 and March 1, more than 200 organizers from eight Southern states will converge in Asheville, NC for the 1st annual LGBT in the South conference. The Campaign for Southern Equality is excited to partner with the Hart Law Group and the National Center for Lesbian Rights as lead sponsors of conference. This dynamic two-day conference will help Southern activists and organizers build skills and network as the push for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights intensifies across the region.

“At this critical juncture, when LGBT rights are advancing rapidly all across the country, this gathering will help ensure that LGBT people living in rural communities across the South are not left behind when it comes to rights and protections,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality. “This conference will convene Southern organizers to explore best practices and share strategies on how to advance LGBT rights in Southern states.”

“That this conference is in Asheville, home of the Campaign for Southern Equality, is very special for our community, the WNC region, and our state,” says Roger Hartley, Professor of Political Science and Public Affairs at Western Carolina University who will participate in a panel discussion titled, “New Advocacy Strategies in the South” at the conference.

“Asheville continues to make a name for itself as an organizing hub of LGBT rights in the South. I am excited to see folks from across the country coming to Asheville to learn about strategies that will help us achieve equal rights for all people,” says Drew Reisinger, the Buncombe County Register of Deeds. Reisinger became the first elected official in the South to accept marriage license applications from same-sex couples beginning on October 15, 2013. He will discuss the decision to accept marriage license applications at the conference on Friday morning.
On Friday, the conference focuses on LGBT law and attendees include attorneys, legal professionals, service providers, and staff from LGBT organizations. Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit is offered for attorneys through the NC Bar Association.

“This conference and CLE will bring together attorneys and advocates from across the region who will discuss legal battles and legal strategies across the country that help ensure equal rights to LGBT individuals,” says Mae Craddick, an attorney with the Hart Law Group.

The Saturday portion of the conference features hands-on trainings and interactive panels designed to help organizers and grassroots groups build new skills that they can immediately apply to their work. The Saturday sessions are free of cost, but registration is required. Pre-registration for the conference is closed, but individuals can register on Saturday morning starting at 8:15 a.m. in the atrium of the First Congregational UCC in downtown Asheville (20 Oak Street).

The conference takes place against the backdrop of a dynamic regional and national landscape regarding LGBT rights. In recent weeks, federal courts in Kentucky and Virginia have issued rulings advancing marriage rights for same-sex couples. Two Mississippi towns – Starkville and Hattiesburg – have passed equality resolutions, including the LGBT community in their municipal diversity policies. Federal lawsuits challenging state laws that ban same-sex marriage have been filed in North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Florida and Louisiana.

More information about the conference along with registration details are available at: http://www.southernequality.org/2014/02/southern-lgbt-organizers/

Organizations participating in the conference include:

Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, National LGBT Bar Association, Equality Federation, Equality Florida, First Congregational UCC of Asheville, Freedom to Marry, Gender Benders, Marriage Equality USA, South Carolina Equality, Western NC Citizens for an End to Institutional Bigotry, the ACLU of NC, Freedom Center for Social Justice’s LGBTQ Law Center, Planned Parenthood of North Carolina, Utah Pride Center, Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville, Southerners on New Ground, Western NC AIDS Project, WNC Community Health Center’s Transgender Health Program, Youth Outright! and the Wake Forest School of Law OUTLaw.


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