Game on: Marriage Equality in the South

The Campaign for Southern Equality will be visiting seven states in the southern US as part of their WE DO campaign, which

involves LGBT couples in the Southern communities where they live requesting – and being denied – marriage licenses in order to call for full equality under federal law and to resist unjust state laws….

These WE DO actions serve to make the impact of discriminatory laws visible to the general public; they illustrate what it looks like when LGBT people are treated as second-class citizens under the law. Sometimes these actions include non-violent acts of civil disobedience in the form of individuals refusing to leave the public office where the denial of  a license has occured. The purpose of civil disobedience is to resist unjust state laws and to express a belief that LGBT people are fully human and should be treated as equal citizens under our nation’s laws.

To date, 38 couples in 10 cities across North and South Carolina have sought marriage licenses as part of the WE DO campaign.

They’ve put together a great video:


Thanks, JF!

7 thoughts on “Game on: Marriage Equality in the South

  1. That was nice that they led with the issue of employment discrimination, which affects many people for whom the marriage issue isn’t as big of a concern.

    Also, this was interesting to learn as to why they are the campaign for “Southern” equality (though they’re a “national effort”):

    “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 5 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. First, we believe there is a pressing need for advocacy, legal and crisis response services for LGBT people in the South. Second, we believe that 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. Third, we believe that every person – including those conflicted about or opposed to LGBT rights – can become an ally.”

  2. When they say ” we believe that every person – including those conflicted about or opposed to LGBT rights – can become an ally”, do they mean that they think that people opposed to LGBT rights can eventually become friendly towards LGBT rights and then become an ally (trivially true), or do they mean that someone who is opposed to LGBT rights but listens to the arguments of the LGBT people is an ally (very strange)? O_o

  3. Hi Jarrod,
    Thanks for taking the time to check out the work we’re doing with the Campaign for Southern Equality to promote LGBT rights in the South. I wanted to reply to your question about the ethical basis of our work.

    All of our work is based on an ethic called empathic resistance, which calls for 1) resisting persecuting systems by expressing the authentic self and 2) approaching those who oppose your rights with empathy. One element of this ethic is a belief that any person has the capacity to become an ally – i.e. an active supporter of LGBT rights and equality – regardless of their current beliefs. We believe this transformational process is highly individualized and therefore in no way formulaic; however, we also believe that the process can be catalyzed by factors including being in ongoing relationship with LGBT people and allies and exposure to the harms of discriminatory laws on real people. In the public actions we take through the WE DO Campaign, we seek to create a narrative context in which those conflicted about LGBT rights, or opposed to them, can see these issues play out in human and moral terms in the public square, rather than in familiar – and frankly, tired – partisan and theological terms.

    Our experience is that the majority position on the issue of LGBT rights in the South is “conflicted” as people struggle to reconcile dogmatic religious teachings with the truths of their lives and relationships. Through the WE DO Campaign, we strive to express empathy and love towards those who are conflicted, or outright opposed, as we also hold up the truths of our equality and our readiness to resist unjust laws.

    I hope this helps to clarify the ethical framework we’re using. I’m happy to answer any other questions or be in further touch.
    Thanks again for checking out our work,

    Jasmine Beach-Ferrara
    Executive Director, Campaign for Southern Equality

  4. Jasmine, thank you so much for your comment. You remind us that the truth of the claim that even opponents can become allies is very, very far from trivial, and depends on us extending ourselves towards them in empathy even in our disagreement.

    I think philosophers sometimes forget that arguments aren’t the only things that can change minds.

  5. If believing that arguments are capable of changing minds is a necessary requirement for being a philosopher, then I am definitely not a philosopher.

    The last time someone said some homophobic shit to me, I vigorously mocked them until l was satisfied that their stupidity had been exposed to the third person in the room. That is the only way I know how to assert my authentic self (sarcastic asshole is a big part of my self-image). Now, why I did that was mostly for my own pleasure, but I am wondering what would the empathetic resister (virtuous agent?) do in a situation like this? Say that homophobia hurts you, and attempt to fill them with shame (as opposed to embarrassment) for their viciousness? Show them your baby pictures? How does an attitude of empathy work on the level of confronting (confronting is probably not an empathetic word) a homophobic person?

    At any rate, I wish you good consequences.

    PS I never meant to claim (if I indeed did), as Heg suggests, that “even opponents can become allies is..trivial”, just that it was trivial within the mission statement of an LGBT rights organization, since, in my understanding, most make some attempt to convert the unrighteous (unless they are focused exclusively on stuff for LGBT people themselves).

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