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Traveling Journal from the WE DO! Campaign with Campaign for Southern Equality.

Jan 17, 2013 Walking from Arlington, VA, to Washington, DC, is a short journey when surrounded by friends. But then, when it is required in order to get married it seems way too far. Why is it necessary to go to Wash., DC, to get a marriage license? There is something missing here that Arlington should have access to. The people with the WE DO! Campaign that have journeyed from Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, receiving denials for marriage licenses all along that way, want to say that in all fairness that journey is too far. And then when we turn around to go home from Wash., DC, we step back into our home states with the denials still echoing in our hearts. And it hurts. It would all be too much to face if it were not for the hope, courage and resilience witnessed today with those who have made the trip, in body and in spirit. We have come this far and now there is no going back to the quiet acceptance that we are asking for too much, too soon.  

Today we celebrated a marriage and we witnessed to a truth in Wash, DC. We are the same people on either side of the bridge, whether in Wash, DC, or Arlington, VA. We need full equality whether on this side of the bank of the Potomac or the other side. It really doesn’t signify in any logical way. Love will win out, every time.    

Jan 12, 2013  We stood over 100 strong together in Greenville, SC on Friday, Jan 11, 2013 in support of same gender marriage rights at the clerk of deeds office where couples requested and were denied marriage licenses. I looked around to memorize the faces, as a crowd gathered in support, and as individuals each with their reason for being here on this dreary, drizzly day. This is church congregating where people with a specific intention gathered. We gave thanks for the opportunity even while some of us remained plagued with the frustration about why we still need to advocate for basic rights. We are all grateful to enact with the support of each other the plans Jasmine, Ethan, Lindsey and Carmen, the Campaign for Southern Equality team, have thoughtfully crafted in response to the need for legal inclusion.

Later that day in Asheville we stood almost 200 strong with seven couples, several who had gone before to request and be denied a marriage license. Some said it was harder in this subsequent attempt, others said that they realized that they had become more resolved in their stance for equality for all people. One said of the attempt that it is something that you know you are due, and you’re not going to get it. They all reported the warmth and kindness that they felt in the presence of support from all who had gathered, from family, friends, and community, from people who care. The support was described in one person’s words as being so important because people were actually there in the flesh, actually out there. They talked about the hope that in the future they would be included legally, as they are now included in community. Reported from deep in the South and spreading across the nation, these are the stories of real people with a real need to be included in equal benefits and rights legal marriage entails. These are couples who are committed in relationships bound by love, family and community, looking for legal recognition of their existence. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, the Executive Director for CSE, said that it is those with good heart and fair minds that these demonstrations hope to reach. The change that we are looking for is fair treatment for all families. 

Jan 10, 2013  Traveling as part of the support group for the WE DO! Campaign of the Campaign for Southern Equality is important to my ministry to and with the LGBTQ community. As a minister I am ever mindful of the need to ‘do no harm’. At the very least, clergy and all people of faith should be prepared to step back from harming other people. I want to walk with those same gender loving couples to help protect them from physical harm. I am also present to do whatever I can to help decrease the pain that the inevitable denial of a marriage license will wreak on their hearts, their relationships and their communities.

I have stood to cover the backs of couples and watched how, with smiling determination, hands clasped for mutual support, they have stepped up to the counter to request in hope what they know in fact they will be denied. I have seen the light of hope dimmed by the clerk’s denial to process their marriage license request. All the careful, thoughtful preparation slips away for a brief moment and the hurt of the denial for equal treatment slips in. No one can help but see the pain of yet another rejection on their faces, in their eyes, in their trembling lips, as they speak calmly explaining why they need this document. How the refusal impacts them, their family and their lives. You can hear determination grow in their voices, and see the strengthening of conviction in their eyes, that their request is for inclusion, and that all people will benefit from their claim to fair treatment. This courage of conviction and the visible action of asking for equality under the law is what draws the heartwarming applause and celebratory cheers from deep inside of us, their supporters, when they step back outside. We live with the faith that, in showing these stories of hope, people in growing numbers will come to an empathetic understanding of the common ground loving couples all share in marriage.