Marriage equality is making some exciting (and rather surprising) headway in conservative states below the Mason-Dixon line. Last month, Freedom to Marry, the campaign to win marriage nationwide, announced that it is expanding its campaign in the South. In partnership with 16 state and regional organizations and 14 co-chairs, Freedom to Marry formed Southerners for the Freedom to Marry, a public education initiative that focuses on grassroots organizing, paid advertising and digital strategies.
What’s the goal? Equality, everywhere, even in the South—from Graceland to the Alamo to the Mississippi Delta. And they won’t stop working until that dream becomes a reality.
“The South is home to hundreds of thousands of loving, committed same-sex couples—and to a majority of the more than 70 federal marriage cases now underway in the courts across the nation,” said Evan Wolfson, the president of Freedom to Marry. “Growing Southern support will add to the momentum that will end gay marriage discrimination nationwide.”
Unquestionably, there is thrilling progress being made in the Southern states. At the federal court level, judges have issued rulings striking down same-sex marriage bans in Oklahoma, Virginia, Texas and Arkansas; and while those rulings are stayed pending appeal, it’s been a boon to marriage equality supporters. In the realm of public opinion, a recent Washington Post poll found that 50 percent of Southerners support marriage for same-sex couples in Tennessee and Kentucky.
“Southerners now support the freedom to marry at unprecedented levels as they understand how their friends and neighbors are personally harmed by discriminatory marriage bans,” said Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality. “Our WE DO Campaign tells the stories of loving, committed couples who seek to marry, and Freedom to Marry’s longstanding support is instrumental in this effort.”
To sum it up, we’re beginning to see our allies in the South joining forces with LGBT activists in support of same-sex marriage, and they’re working to ensure equality for all.
Do we think they’ll reach the goal?
Yes. We do. —Teresa Ricciardi