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The Growing Push For Marriage Equality In Mississippi: VIDEO

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Earlier this year, we reported on five gay couples who were denied marriage licenses in Mississippi as part of a demonstration by the Campaign for Southern Equality's "We Do" campaign. Since that time, the group has been organizing an expansive road trip across the Deep South to speak out for equality. This week, the group is back in the state many consider the most openly hostile to LGBT Americans.

From The Advocate:

But why Mississippi, a state where the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was approved by a staggering 86% of voters in 2004? Why choose Mississippi, where The New York Times estimated that support for marriage equality by 2016 will be just 31.5%, the lowest in the nation?

"Sometimes, when you're looking at bigotry and discrimination, you have to scratch the surface a little bit, and shine some light on it - the way you do an infection - let it breath, to cure it," said the Revered Jasmine Beach Ferrarra, the Campaign for Southern Equality's executive director, in a new video that deftly answers that very question.

Then there's the fact that more than a quarter of same-sex couples living in Mississippi are raising children, the group discovered. That's the highest percentage of LGBT parents in any state in the union.  

Ferrarra says that when touring southern states, many people ask her: "Why don't you just move to New York or Iowa?" Her response is that "the solution to the discrimination we face is not to move." With the Campaign for Southern Equality, she hopes that people will learn to stay, stand up, and fight the battle directly.

Check out a video of their work, AFTER THE JUMP...


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  1. Mississippi - the Bottom of the barrell of states, highest obesity,unwanted pregnancies, poverty, uneducated......pathetic state...Bigotry,Discrimination and Ignorance abound in MS.

    Posted by: disgusted american | Jul 9, 2013 10:24:13 AM

  2. MS will only allow gay marriage through a Supreme Court order and not before that.
    And the 86% number seems low to me..I thought it would be much higher then that.

    Posted by: Kevin | Jul 9, 2013 10:46:12 AM

  3. As a native Mississippian, it is beyond encouraging to see that people are working to educate and do what's right, even when the situation appears bleak. The marriage equality battle is one that must be fought on all fronts, and I applaud the efforts of the Campaign for Southern Equality.

    Posted by: Charles | Jul 9, 2013 10:49:07 AM

  4. @ Disgusted American,

    Yes, Mississippi has some wretched conditions, and it's been an awful place for people of my skin complexion. But Mississippi also gave us William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams and Richard Wright.

    When it comes to literature and music Mississippi has given to American culture.

    As for marriage equality in Mississippi? Pray on it, honey.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jul 9, 2013 10:59:52 AM

  5. Awesome. These folks are real heroes in the equality movement. Don't force well-off queers to move while abandoning the countless LGBT children in the state now and in the future. Established, local organizations should fight for their futures through advocacy and demands for legal protections.

    Don't surrender Mississippi just because it's hard.

    Posted by: Lumpmoose | Jul 9, 2013 11:09:33 AM

  6. As a native Mississippian I honor and respect these courageous people. They are heroes to me and should be heroes to everyone in the gay community. Mississippi has its problems but it also has a lot of wonderful people who want to move the state and her people forward. I was just there last week and I'm amazed at how quickly the state is moving forward. The day after the Supreme Court ruling I was in a Kroger grocery store and there was a news stand with USA Today newspapers with a gay couple kissing on the front page. I was stunned that it was displayed without the picture being covered. I heard many people talking about the ruling and again I was surprised by how they reacted. I didn't hear any weeping, wailing and nashing of teeth. Just matter of fact discussion and resignation that times were changing. I think these courageous Mississippi activists are on to something. I believe the state CAN be moved with a lot of hard work, familiarity and education. I'm certain that if nothing is done nothing will change so I commend these brave souls for their visibility and activism.

    To add to Derrick's observation, Mississippi is the home and heart of virtually every type of American music except Blue Grass. Rock, Blues and Country were born directly in Mississippi and Jazz and Motown have their roots in the state.

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Jul 9, 2013 11:23:24 AM

  7. @disgusted american

    I also want to add that Mississippi is the poorest state but still gives more money per capita to charity than any other state. Somehow that statistic never gets mentioned Yes, it has a long LONG way to go, but don't dismiss an entire state which you know nothing about and probably haven't experienced. That sounds pretty ignorant to me. I was born and raised in MS and moved away last year when I was 25. Things are slow to change, but change is happening, and groups like this are a great vehicle for it. Instead of talking crap and dismissing roughly 3 million people, some of which are the best people you'll never meet, why not go out and do something to make the world a better place. End rant.

    Posted by: Andrew | Jul 9, 2013 11:59:30 AM

  8. I agree. . .these individuals are our every-day heroes and deserve all the support we can provide. You don't change hearts or minds by moving, or bashing people as being bigoted and uneducated; but rather by having conversations and living an authentic and visible life. I applaud these efforts, and hope to find a way to support this group so they can contine their mission.

    Posted by: Keith | Jul 9, 2013 12:42:52 PM

  9. @Derrick from Philly: you are the breath of fresh air and the voice of reason here on TW.

    Kudos to those brave activists in Mississippi. If it can be done in MS, it can be done anywhere.

    This is good news. Bit by bit. Step by step. Educate. Educate. Educate.

    Fight fear with facts.

    Posted by: jamal | Jul 9, 2013 12:46:38 PM

  10. Mississippi and the south in general have contributed greatly to literature and the arts whether some people realize it or not. Probably disproportionately so. It's a pattern you see all over the world, actually. Places where there is or was a lot of strife, conflict, poverty, etc. are often the places great art and artists of all kinds come out of.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jul 9, 2013 1:40:42 PM

  11. @ "Derrick from Philly: you are the breath of fresh air and the voice of reason here on TW."

    Actually, Jamal, I'm a breath of very old air around here. I've been running my mouth on this blog forever.

    I just don't like it when we put down whole groups of people or an entire state or an entire country. Not that I haven't been guilty of it in a moment of anger. But it's wrong.

    There are some very good people in Mississippi and the rest of the South. Now, if we could just separate them from their Bibles :-)

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jul 9, 2013 2:12:56 PM

  12. "Mississippi - the Bottom of the barrell of states, highest obesity,unwanted pregnancies, poverty, uneducated"

    That's partly because it is the blackest state in America--at 38%, it has a higher percentage of blacks by 5 points than even the next closest Southern state, Louisiana.

    If Vermont of Connecticut had populations that were 38% black rather than 1-3%, they would have similar statistics to Mississippi.

    I also have to make the observation here that people's core attitudes towards homosexuality are not that different whether you are in a "progressive" area or a deeply conservative area. I really don't think the life of the average gay man differs much at all due to his sexual orientation whether he lives in New York City or LA or Mississippi or Nebraska.

    It might matter for those who insist on wearing their sexuality on their sleeves, but for the vast majority who don't, it doesn't.

    And that is because when you get down to the personal level, political "liberals" are really no more comfortable with "gayness" than "conservatives" are. Which is why I have always said and will continue to do so that our real battle is cultural, not political.

    Finally, yes, you could make an argument for "backwards" Mississippi having produced America's greatest novelist (Faulkner), its greatest playwright (Williams--although Eugene O'Neill fans would argue the point), its most iconic musical figure (Elvis Presley), the greatest blues singer of all time (B.B. King), and its greatest operatic soprano (Leontyne Price).

    Not bad for a "pathetic" state, to use "disgusted american's" descriptor.

    Posted by: Rick | Jul 9, 2013 4:17:24 PM

  13. I don't like the racist undertone of that last post, Rick. There are a lot of poor, uneducated obese people in Miss. that are white. And the percentage of African Americans has little to do with marriage equality. Washington, DC while not a state has the highest percentage of African Americans and was one of the first jurisdictions to actually pass marriage equality through elected representatives, rather than through a court decision.
    And to say there's no difference in people's attitudes towards gay people between NYC and rural Miss. Is just silly and defies common sense.

    Posted by: Tommy | Jul 9, 2013 4:55:57 PM

  14. @ Tommy,

    Hey, I take it you've never (or rarely) read Rick's views on race. His comment above is almost angelic compared to some of the other shyt he's written on this blog.

    Notice how he simply says, "the blacks" without any mention of generational poverty or decades of discrimination.

    Nope, it's just "the blacks"

    I believe Mr Faulkner, Mr Williams, Ms Welty and Mr Wright have all written about men like Rick--and it aint very complimentary.

    Hey Rick, ever hear of Jason Compson?

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jul 9, 2013 5:19:41 PM

  15. That's Jason Compson IV. Jason III was a gentleman. The younger one was a....well, you get the picture.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jul 9, 2013 5:22:48 PM

  16. Facts are facts, Derrick. I was just pointing out that the demographic composition of a state has a lot to do with where it ranks on the measures "disgusted american" mentioned. There is no need to provide a PC history lesson every time one provides a statistical explanation.

    And I did salute B.B. King and Leontyne Price in my post, which you seem to have overlooked in your overly-sensitive reaction.

    Posted by: Rick | Jul 9, 2013 5:46:24 PM

  17. So rick, are you saying that all of this very VERY white and very VERY republican political bombastic rhetoric that comes from Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, et al. is because they are representing all those black constituients that voted for them?


    Posted by: Chitown kev | Jul 9, 2013 6:13:33 PM

  18. As far as the arts are concerned, sure, the South has a huge cultural influence on American art and literature but most of the writers (and many of the musicians mentioned) HAD to leave Mississippi in order to actually work (among that group, Welty is the only one, I believe, that was a lifelong Mississippian more or less).

    Posted by: Chitown kev | Jul 9, 2013 6:17:12 PM

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