Five lesbian couples applied for marriage licenses in Forrest County, Miss., this week, knowing they would be denied.
The action on Jan. 2 in Hattiesburg, Miss., was part of a national group's campaign to gain equality for LGBT people. The Campaign for Southern Equality is based in Asheville, N.C., and the marriage actions are part of the "We Do" effort in the South.
Forrest County Circuit Clerk Lou Ellen Adams politely told the couples she could not legally issue the licenses. "I have to take an oath that I have to up hold the laws of the state of Mississippi, and this law says that I cannot issue this license," said Adams.
Applicants included Sara and Lynn Bell, who are legally married in the state of Connecticut. They said they wanted to be legally married in their home state of Mississippi.
The Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, called for federal action to assure marriage equality in all states.
Rolanda Boyd and Dawn Edwards have been together for nine years. Despite the denial, Boyd says they are proud of their actions.
"I'm in love with her and I'm proud of it. I am proud of who we are, our family. We just wanted to make a stand to let everyone know that we are here too. We are Americans just like everybody else," said Boyd.
More actions are planned this month, including one in Mobile, Ala., on Jan. 4; Decatur, Ga., on Jan. 7; Morristown, Tenn. on Jan. 9, Greenville, S.C. on Jan. 11; Asheville, N.C., on Jan. 11; Wilson and Winston-Salem, N.C., on Jan. 14, and Arlington, Va., on Jan. 17.
Also on Jan. 17, couples will demonstrate in Washington, D.C., at the Jefferson Memorial.
Gay marriage is legal in the District of Columbia and nine states, including Maryland, the only state south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
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