ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Same-sex couples will request – and be denied – marriage licenses in their hometowns across Mississippi during July as the WE DO Campaign continues to grow across the South.
A project of the Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE), the WE DO Campaign calls for equal rights under federal law for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people by highlighting the harms of current state laws across the South that prohibit marriage between same-sex couples. During WE DO actions, family members and friends stand in support of the couples and clergy lead a prayer service for reconciliation.
Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down a section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) last week, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals still lack basic legal protections in the areas of employment, housing, family rights and marriage in every state across the South. As a result, LGBT individuals and families in Mississippi feel compelled to make a public call for equal rights under federal law.
The schedule of WE DO events in July 2013 is:
July 10 – Poplarville and Gulfport, Mississippi
July 12 – Hattiesburg, Mississippi
July 15 – Jackson, Mississippi
July 18 – Tupelo, Mississippi
“The couples taking part in the WE DO Campaign are loving, committed families who are proud to call Mississippi home. But LGBT people in Mississippi and other Southern states simply cannot keep waiting for equality through state laws. There is an urgent human need for legal protections for families and individuals in Mississippi and so we are calling for federal laws to change as quickly as possible to ensure that, no matter what state you live in, you are treated as a full and equal citizen,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality.
According to the Williams Institute 26 percent of same-sex couples in Mississippi are raising children, the highest percentage of any state in the nation. The lack of legal protections for these families results in harm and suffering for LGBT people across the state. At the same-time Mississippi has the lowest support for same-sex marriage of any state and passage of a law granting the right for same-sex couples to marry likely would not come until well into the 2020s.
Due to the urgent need for legal protections, CSE will offer a series free legal clinics focused on how LGBT people in Mississippi can protect their rights under current laws. Facilitated by attorney Diane Walton, these clinics will take place in Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Jackson and Tupelo on the evening of the WE DO action in each town. The legal clinics are hosted in collaboration with the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy organization.
The WE DO Campaign, a project of the Campaign for Southern Equality, launched in Asheville, North Carolina in 2011. To date, 76 couples in 7 Southern states have sought marriage licenses as part of the WE DO Campaign. For more information about the Campaign for Southern Equality and its WE DO Campaign, visit www.southernequality.org.