The U.S. Supreme Court will likely decide next month whether same-sex couples nationwide will be allowed to marry. But many couples in Mississippi believe the right to marry may be the first of many hurdles standing between them and equality.
Brittany Rowell of Pearl got engaged to her fiancé Jessica Harbuck last November. They're planning a January wedding in Mississippi, because they're optimistic that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of same-sex marriage this June. However, Rowell says they are also preparing themselves for a lot of extra hurdles because they are a same-sex couple.
"We have a lot of legal bumps that we're going to hit; a lot of stuff that we had not considered like something as simple as getting the social security cards changed and things like that. What kind of backlash we're going to get. Yes, we will get a blanket decision and you get a wedding. You get this marriage, but what's going to come after."
Rowell and Harbuck are not alone. Sitting in a multipurpose room in the Eudora Welty Public Library in Jackson, same-sex couples from across Central Mississippi met last night to discuss what could happen if the Supreme Court strikes down every state's ban on gay marriage. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara is the Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality -- a gay rights advocacy group.
"We also see the issues of inequality playing out in other spheres of life," says Beach-Ferrara. "You can still be fired for being gay in Mississippi. One of the most urgent issues that we think a lot about is the experience of gay kids and transgender kids who are growing up right now and may not be getting a message that's affirming. And as a result, may be struggling.
Mississippians voted in favor of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in 2004. A federal judge in Jackson, overturned that decision late last year, but an injunction has prevented any same-sex couples in Mississippi from getting married.