In the hearts and minds of Petal residents Sara and Lynn Bell, May 11 will forever be their wedding anniversary.
Recognized in Connecticut as a legally married couple, Sara Bell, 31, and Lynn Bell, 43, say they are “legal strangers” in their home state of Mississippi.
For that reason, the two women found themselves standing in line Friday morning at the Forrest County Courthouse with five other same-sex couples and their friends and families. Each couple filed into the office to be denied a marriage license.
Supporters of the Campaign for Southern Equality’s WE DO Campaign, the Bells are working with equal rights activists across the South to tell their story and take steps toward marriage equality.
The WE DO Campaign brings together same-sex couples and their supporters to call for equal rights under federal law for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. The campaign’s mission is to draw attention to “the harms created by states’ laws across the South that prohibit same-sex marriage.”
“We want couples to be able to tell their stories of why they are in loving and committed relationships,” said Aaron Sarber, Campaign for Southern Equality’scommunications director. “You have situations where parents are raising kids, and they don’t have legal rights to those kids.
“We recognize that there are folks across the South, including Mississippi, who don’t agree with same-sex marriage, and that’s fine. We want to remove this from being such a controversial political issue and talk about the couples and the realities of these families raising children.”