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Couple Records Same-Sex Marriage in Rankin County; First Known in State

The Campaign for Southern Equality just sent this verbatim press statement:

Gay Couple Records Legal Marriage License in Mississippi Creating First Known Public Record of Same-Sex Marriage in State

(March 24, 2014) - On March 24, Anna Guillot and Chrissy Kelly, a same-sex couple, paid $12 to record their legal marriage license at the Rankin County Chancery Clerk’s Office - the first known time that a gay couple has created a public record of their marriage in Mississippi. The couple, who live in Rankin County, were married in New York on July 13, 2012. Their marriage is recognized by the federal government and a growing number of states. However, Mississippi law refuses to recognize same-sex marriage; as a result married couples like Ms. Guillot and Ms. Kelly are regarded as legal strangers in their home state.

“We’re just like anybody else. We love each other and we want to be treated the same as everyone else,” said Ms. Guillot. “We want people to know they are not alone. There are gay couples here in Rankin County,” added Ms. Kelly.

Beginning in 2011, same-sex couples have recorded their legal marriage licenses in North Carolina and Alabama, as part of the Campaign for Southern Equality’s WE DO Campaign, a growing campaign that calls for full equality for LGBT people. “Couples like Anna and Chrissy are doing everything in their power to have their marriage recognized - including creating a public record of their marriage. Now no one can deny the reality of their marriage, their love or their commitment. We are calling for Mississippi to treat LGBT people equally under the law,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality.

The WE DO Campaign will continue tomorrow morning. At approximately 10 a.m. on March 25th same-sex couples will request marriage licenses at the Hinds County Courthouse. This action will continue weeks of intense focus on LGBT issues in Mississippi, following successful efforts by LGBT rights advocates, including CSE, to strip a proposed legislation (SB 2681) of language that would license discrimination against LGBT individuals.

Amber Kirkendoll, a minister at the Safe Harbor United Church of Christ in Flowood, and her partner Jessica Kirkendoll, are one of the couples who will apply for a marriage license. “We'd like to know that when one of us has an emergency, there will be no questions about the other being by her side. We want to be confident that if ever one of us is unable to make decisions, no questions will arise about who else to turn to. And when asked if we are married, we pray for the day there will be no awkward hesitation, but a very firm and celebratory ‘Yes!’ to anyone who asks!,” says Amber. The Kirkendolls will be joined by other same-sex couples who seek to have their relationships recognized by Mississippi. Clergy, friends and family will stand in support of the couples as they take this action.

Last summer same-sex couples applied for marriage licenses as part of the WE DO Campaign in Poplarville, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Jackson and Tupelo. Launched in 2011, the WE DO Campaign calls for equal rights under federal and state law for LGBT people by highlighting the harms of current state laws across the South that prohibit marriage between same-sex couples. To date, more than 100 LGBT couples across seven Southern states have taken part in this growing campaign.

Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara will also be speaking about the growing push for LGBT equality in the South at Milsaps College on Tuesday, March 25 at 7:00 pm in Room 215 of the Academic Complex. Responding to her talk will be Ann Phelps, director of Millsaps Faith and Work program, Shelli Poe, professor of religious studies at Millsaps, and CJ Rhodes, director of Student Religious Life at Alcorn State University. Question and answer session will follow. The event is free and open to the public.

Launched in 2011, the WE DO Campaign calls for full LGBT equality across the South. To date, more than 100 same-sex couples have requested - and been denied - marriage licenses and dozens of legally-married same-sex couples have recorded their licenses. The WE DO Campaign will continue growing to new Southern communities.


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