Citizens call for marriage equality in Hattiesburg - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

Citizens call for marriage equality in Hattiesburg

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HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -

The Southern Equality Group brings the "We Do" campaign across 7 southern states. They're focusing on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples in southern communities who are denied marriage licenses due to state law. The group calls it "an order to call for equality."

The purpose of the group is to make the impact of laws against equality visible to the general public. On Friday, several rallied in Hattiesburg.

Men, women, children, and a preacher with the Campaign for Southern Equality joined hands to pray before flooding through the doors at the Forrest County Courthouse on Friday. Executive Director of the campaign blessed their efforts.

"As a person of faith, I pray to a loving and mighty God," Jasmine Beach-Ferrara prayed.

Surrounded by friends and family, six same sex couples were denied in an attempt to obtain marriage licenses. Although the couples knew their attempts would not be accepted, couples say this is one step closer to equal marriage rights.

"Whenever someone hands you a piece of paper that confirms that the country you love sees you as a second class citizen breaks my heart," Sara Bell said.

Aaron Sarver, communications director for Southern Equality Group is a Mississippi native. He says the LGBT community grapples with more than just marriage rights.

"It's not just marriage. It's employment. You can be fired from your job for being LGBT in Mississippi," Sarver said.

One couple says they were often ridiculed and put down by others for their sexuality in high school. Now, they're on a mission. John Perkins is a Mississippi native who wants the same rights as heterosexual couples.

"We just want the same rights... Nothing special," he said.

"We want to be able to spend the life with the person we love and be able to show it. When Mississippi does allow this to be legal, we'll be the first ones here in line."

Although Mississippi does not approve same sex marriage, 13 states do.