In a first for Mississippi, a same-sex couple has created a public record of their marriage, which still does not give it legal standing in the state but lays the groundwork for further progress.
Anna Guillot and Chrissy Kelly, who were married in New York in 2012, paid $12 Tuesday to record their marriage license from that state at the Rankin County Chancery Clerk’s Office in Brandon, Miss. They live in Rankin County.
Their action is part of the Campaign for Southern Equality’s We Do Campaign, an effort for marriage equality in Southern states, which came to Mississippi this week. “Couples like Anna and Chrissy are doing everything in their power to have their marriage recognized — including creating a public record of their marriage,” Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, said in a press release. “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.”
Added Kelly: “We want people to know they are not alone. There are gay couples here in Rankin County.”
In a follow-up move today, five same-sex couples applied for marriage licenses at the Hinds County Courthouse in Jackson. All were denied.
Four of the five couples have children, said Beach-Ferrara, who hopes the action will point up that lack of marriage recognition harms children. Mississippi, she said, has the highest percentage of same-sex couples raising children — 26 percent — in the nation.
Other events scheduled in Mississippi include a lecture on the LGBT equality movement by Beach-Ferrara at Milsaps College in Jackson tonight at 7; an LGBT rights rally in downtown Jackson at noon tomorrow; and a community organizing dinner in Hattiesburg from 7 to 9 p.m. tomorrow.
In previous We Do actions, same-sex couples have registered their marriage licenses in 17 counties in North Carolina and one county in Alabama. Like the registration by Guillot and Kelly, this does not give the marriages legal recognition in those states, but it does create a public record.
The next stop for the We Do Campaign will be May 8 in Raleigh, N.C., said Beach-Ferrara. The date is the second anniversary of North Carolina’s adoption of Amendment One, writing a ban on same-sex marriage into its constitution. Find more information on the Campaign for Southern Equality’s Facebook page.