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The ACLU of North Carolina's 2015 Frank Porter Graham Awards Dinner
Date: Saturday, February 28, 2015
Location: Chapel Hill, NC 
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RALEIGH – Almost 40 years after two Forsyth County magistrates refused to perform their civil marriage ceremony by citing religious objections, Thomas and Carol Ann Person, an interracial couple from North Carolina, are now speaking out against proposed legislation that would allow magistrates to refuse marriage services to any couple if they voice a religious objection.

Senate Bill 2, which is scheduled to be heard by the House Judiciary I committee today, would allow sworn government officials to refuse to provide marriage services to couples based on what the bill calls “sincerely held religious” beliefs.

“Nobody has a right to tell anyone who they can marry,” said Carol Ann. “I will never forget how painful it was to be told by government officials that they would not give Thomas and me a civil marriage ceremony because of the color of our skin. It was supposed to be a happy day, but instead we were turned away because of somebody else’s religious views and treated like second-class citizens. I hope those lawmakers in Raleigh stop Senate Bill 2 so that no other couple in North Carolina ever has to go through what we did when they want to marry the person they love.”

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Anthony Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, will travel to North Carolina on Saturday, February 28, to deliver the keynote address at the ACLU of North Carolina’s annual Frank Porter Graham Awards Dinner.

The statewide civil liberties organization, which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding in 1965, will honor several individuals with awards for their efforts toward advancing civil liberties in North Carolina. The event is sold out.

What: ACLU of North Carolina’s Frank Porter Graham Awards Dinner

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RALEIGH – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina is urging lawmakers to reject a bill that would allow magistrates and other government officials to opt out of providing marriage services to the public for six-month periods based on “sincerely held religious” objections.

SB 2 is scheduled for a committee hearing on Tuesday, February 24, at 10 a.m. in room 1124/1224 LB at the General Assembly in Raleigh.

“Religious freedom is one of our most valued liberties, but it should never be used as an excuse to deny government services to those who qualify simply because of who they love,” said Sarah Preston, policy director for the ACLU of North Carolina. “This bill is clearly designed to deny gay and lesbian couples their legal right to marry, but it would also make it harder for all North Carolina couples, especially those living in smaller counties, to access their right to be married under the law. We urge lawmakers to reject this bill and ensure that government services in North Carolina remain open to all on equal terms.”

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The ACLU of North Carolina joins countless people from across our state and around the world this week in expressing sorrow over the tragic killing of students Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, in Chapel Hill on February 10.

While the details are still being investigated, several sources, including family members of the victims, have suggested that an underlying motivation in the killings was the three victims’ Muslim faith. That is why the ACLU of North Carolina is supporting Muslim Advocates and more than 150 civil rights, faith, community, and civic groups in urging U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to open a full and rigorous federal hate crime investigation.

“With hate crimes against Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim alarmingly on the rise in recent years, your leadership is crucial to help stem the tide of hate,” reads to letter to Holder. “…Federal leadership is necessary in this case in order to send the strongest message to the public that acts of violence like this have no place in civil society and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

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