Tupelo, MS: The Campaign for Southern Equality wrapped up its week-long "WE DO" marriage equality tour through Mississippi in Tupelo on Thursday. CSE visited five Mississippi cities where local gay and lesbian couples applied for marriage licenses knowing they would be turned down, as they were in Tupelo. As they are everywhere CSE goes.
The WE DO campaign puts faces and names to the struggle for marriage equality with an effort designed to garner local media coverage. Opponents easily dismiss "the gay agenda." But when the local news interviews WE DO couples, dismissing neighbors as "other" becomes more difficult. "It's hard for them to hate you when they know you," says Kevin (married to Daniel in Vermont) in a local Special Report.
Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell have highlighted past WE DO campaigns. Last Sunday, CSE's visit to Mississippi made the front page of the Boston Globe's Sunday edition, in a report from Poplarville, MS.
The exchange lasted all of 15 minutes. But it seemed an eternity for the young couple who had walkedup the courthouse steps, hands tightly joined, to request a marriage license in this rural southern town.
“Male applicant would be?” asked the clerk with the highlighted bouffant as she peered over her reading glasses at the pair standing on the other side of the counter.
Kristen Welch lifted her chin and declared the obvious: “Neither of us.”
Tupelo, where the the swing through Mississippi concluded, is just miles from the headquarters of the American Family Association. The conservative group took umbrage at CSE's efforts "to induce pity" for LGBT couples. In its press release, the American Family Association accused CSE, LGBT "and queer couples" demanding marriage equality of "a flagrant disrespect for the democratic process." Also, for using "deceitful tactics" in claiming a lack of marriage equality for LGBT Americans. By which AFA means homosexuals have the same right to marry someone of the opposite sex as everyone else in America.