Same-sex couples living in the Magnolia State, but were wed elsewhere, are trying a new tactic to have their marriages acknowledged in Mississippi. Couples are taking their out-of-state marriage licenses to county chancery courts and having them documented as vital records.
13 same-sex couples in eight counties are claiming victory after successfully having their out-of-state marriages accepted as a matter of public record in Mississippi. The move, which is largely symbolic, will document the marriages for use in statistical analysis similar to a birth or death certificate. Jocelyn Pritchett of Jackson legally married her partner in Maine. She says by recording their marriage license they hope to bring awareness to the fact that married, same-sex couples live in Mississippi.
"It creates a vital record that we were here, and that for all of history we were here and we were fighting for our marriages and fighting for our families." says Pritchett.
While the couples are claiming the documentation as a win for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights, it still does not provide the same benefits a heterosexual couple would receive under Mississippi law. LindseySimerly with the Campaign for Southern Equality -- a North Carolina based group that promotes L.G.B.T. rights -- says the move is a departure from previous tactics to have same-sex marriages recognized.
"We've been able to stand with couples in the past in several counties across Mississippi that are unmarried as they applied for and were denied marriage licenses." says Simerly. "This is another way to show another side of the face. That there are currently, already married couples that reside in Mississippi."
Despite the success of some, four couples living in Harrison County were denied the ability to have their marriages recorded. Chancery Court Clerk John McAdams says he doesn't have to legal authority to record the marriages.
"It's been my position that we do not as Harrison County is a large county." says McAdams. "We have two judicial district court houses. We have a lot of records; a lot of land records. We cannot record anything people want to record if we don't have the authority to do so. I take an oath of office to follow the law of the state of Mississippi, and that's all I'm doing."
The state banned same-sex marriage in 2004 when 86% of Mississippians voted for a constitutional amendment.