Marriage equality celebrated in Biloxi

Marriage equality celebrated in Biloxi

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - On Saturday, marriage equality was celebrated in Biloxi.

'One Night Out' showcased the positive reaction to the federal law from 2015 that guaranteed marriage equality.

But, many say, the fight is far from over. Celeste Swaim-Gray and Bobbi Gray were the first same-sex couple in line for a marriage license in Harrison County.

"LGBT couples are just like every other couple," Swaim-Gray said. "That we want to be happy, be married, and have families and this is an event to showcase the long journey that it took to get here."

But, the day is also a reserved celebration.

"It shouldn't have taken this long to get to this point," Bobbi Gray said. "We have fought and fought and fought, and we shouldn't have to fight to have the rights that everybody else has got."

It's the same for Andrea Cranford of Poplarville.

"Mississippi discriminates against us if we go out to eat, or shopping, or anything," she said. "For people to try to look at Mississippi in a positive way, that's kind of going backwards."

The event at the Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center in Ocean Springs was a celebration of an award-winning podcast called 'Out Here in Mississippi' that explores the lives of LGBTQ people in the South. It's produced by The Sun Herald newspaper and its parent company, McClatchy Newspapers.

"We're doing something right because people are uncomfortable, and they should be uncomfortable with things they don't understand," Mitchell said. "And it's our job - and my podcast's job - to show them empathy and to show there's nothing to be afraid of," said podcast host, Justin Mitchell.

The highlight of the evening was a documentary, 'Freedom to Marry,' which documents that 2015 Supreme Court decision.

It's directed by Eddie Rosenstein who is not gay, but was drawn to the fight.

"My whole story why I got involved is I wanted to convince people that they could make a difference," Rosenstein said. "That regular people can change the world, that being an activist matters."

Evan Wolfson, founder of the Freedom to Marry advocacy group, was the focus of the film.

"The more people get to talk and see real gay people, see the love, see the commitments, see that nobody's hurt and families are helped with marriage, the more opposition will continue to decline across the country and here in Mississippi."

Copyright 2017 WLOX. All rights reserved.