HRC Blog

Southern Same-Sex Couples Are a Reminder that for LGBT Equality, There Are Still Two Americas

mississippi marriage equality

Post submitted by David McCabe, HRC Digital Media Intern

When Sara and Lynn Bell were married in Connecticut, there were no guests at their wedding. Sara Bell is from Mississippi, a state that doesn’t allow same-sex marriage, and neither of their families has been accepting of their relationship. 

The Bells were just one Southern same-sex couple profiled by the Boston Globe this weekend that highlighted increasing efforts in the region to draw attention to the fact that even as progress comes for LGBT Americans in some parts of the country, there are now two Americas: one where LGBT Americans can imagine a future with full equality under the law, and one where discriminatory laws remain on the books — making it possible for them to be fired because of who they are and impossible for their relationships to be recognized.

In addition to facing unaccepting families and communities and the fact that their relationships are not considered equal to their straight friends and colleagues, LGBT individuals in the South are often not protected from workplace discrimination that can make it impossible for them to learn a living. The Globe reported that several employers around the South had asked their employees in same-sex couples not to participate in actions around the region where lesbian and gay couples request marriage licenses, despite the knowledge that their requests will be denied.

But change is coming. A poll released by HRC found that 58 percent of Mississippians under the age of 30 support marriage equality and a large majority of residents support laws that guard against workplace protections for LGBT Americans, including a majority of Republicans in the state.

Last week, HRC’s president, Chad Griffin, met with local activists and supporters in four Southern states — Mississippi, Arkansas, Virginia and North Carolina — to spread the message the HRC will continue the fight for equality for everyone, everywhere.

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