Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

A Southern Strategy: Meet the Neighbors: As Marriage Equality Sweeps across the Nation, Progress Remains Glacially Slow in One Region: The South

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

A Southern Strategy: Meet the Neighbors: As Marriage Equality Sweeps across the Nation, Progress Remains Glacially Slow in One Region: The South

Article excerpt

LGBT people living in the South understand it's often hostile territory. A litany of antigay laws give the impression that "southern hospitality" does not extend to everyone. But progress need not be stagnant, according to the Campaign for Southern Equality's We Do Campaign, which concluded in January.

Since October 2011, the campaign has sent 76 same-sex couples into their hometown county clerk's offices to request marriage licenses. In North and South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia, every couple was denied. CSE documented the peaceful but sometimes awkward interactions to put a face on the harm caused by discriminatory laws.

"I think it's one of the most exciting grassroots campaigns in the U.S. right now," says longtime LGBT activist David Mixner. "It's taking enormous courage in small towns throughout the South to confront one's peers in the community and demand equality."

That's exactly what Matt Griffin and Raymie Wolfe did January 9 in Morristown, Tenn. Together for seven years, they live on a farm that has been in Wolfe's family for three generations. …

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