Forrest Co. court denies marriage licenses for five LGBT couples

Published: Jan. 2, 2013 at 6:29 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 2, 2013 at 11:50 PM CST
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HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Forrest County Circuit Clerk's Office denied marriage licenses for five couples Wednesday afternoon.  The couples walked into the circuit clerk's office one couple at a time.

"We're here to apply for a marriage license," said Petal Resident, Sara Bell.

All the couples applied for a marriage license, and were immediately denied. Forrest County Circuit Clerk Lou Ellen Adams explained the rejection.

"As I told the others, you know, this takes an act of the legislature to change this. My oath of office, as circuit clerk , I have to take an oath that I have to up hold the laws of the state of Mississippi, and this law says that I can not issue this license," said Adams.

Five lesbian couples from South Mississippi entered the courthouse knowing their request for a license would be denied. Reverend Jasmine Beach-Ferrara says this peaceful action is a part of the "We Do" Campaign, which calls for full equality under federal law for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

"Call for change under federal law, which we believe to be the most appropriate path way for LGBT people in the south to become equal citizens under the law, and for their fundamental right to marry to be recognized which it currently is not," said Ferrara.

Sara and Lynn Bell are legally married in the state of Connecticut, but they feel it is important to stand for the right to marry in their home state of Mississippi.

"We struggle with healthcare benefits, we struggle with housing issues, and mortgages and insurance. There is so many things that a marriage grants to couples that we don't have the rights to," said Sara Bell.

Rolanda Boyd and Dawn Edwards have been together for nine years. Despite the denial, Boyd says they are proud of their actions.

"I'm in love with her and I'm proud of it. I am proud of who we are, our family. We just wanted to make a stand to let everyone know that we are here too. We are Americans just like everybody else," said Boyd.

The couples say the marriage license does not make them a family;however, they are fighting for it so they and others will be able to say "I do" in the state of Mississippi.

"It's what we have together and that we love each other that makes us a family, but this piece of paper would protect our family," said Sara Bell.

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