Couples across the south stand up for marriage with the Campaign for Southern Equality

For the past week, the Campaign for Southern Equality has been touring across the South with its "We Do" campaign, where same-sex couples request marriage licenses and provoke denials in order to illustrate the discriminatory marriage laws in these states. 

Last week, LGBT couples in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi took a stand for the freedom to marry, and this week, couples in Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina, will join in. This is Stage 4 of the We Do campaign, encompassing more cities and states than ever before, and it's been exciting to track the Campaign for Southern Equality on their journey. 

The action of requesting and being denied a marriage license is a brave step for many of these couples, who live in states with completely unsupportive, discriminatory laws and who often live in unwelcoming, unaccepting communities. 

The organization's Executive Director, Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, spoke with Freedom to Marry before Stage 4 of the campaign kicked off on January 2. She explained the significance of the action, saying, "Through the ritual of approaching a marriage license counter, these couples are doing something that they've been told their whole lives that they have no right to do. I think you can't really underestimate the power of that. When people begin to voluntarily - and with some risk - take action that directly confronts discriminatory laws at the very locus, at the place where they are enforced, something very powerful happens. These discriminatory state laws, which are typically invisible to the general public, are actually enforced, and that's very powerful to witness."

The Campaign for Southern Equality has been sharing many of these couples' personal stories on their blog - including stories from Kim and Cari in AlabamaDaphne and Kim in GeorgiaSally and Beth in GeorgiaMatt and Raymie in Tennessee, and Ra'Shawn and Kelvin in South Carolina (pictured).  

Check out a video from the Campaign for Southern Equality's action in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, which kicked off Stage 4 at the beginning of the month.