Picayune same sex couple denied license to wed

PEARL RIVER COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A Picayune same sex couple made Pearl River County history Wednesday. The two became the first gay couple to apply for a marriage license.

Their application was denied because same sex marriage is not legal in the magnolia state. However the denial didn't surprise the couple whose goal was to pave the way for same sex marriage in the future.

After going through the process of applying for a license to marry, Jenna Lockwood and Kristen Welch had their dreams of becoming a married couple crushed.

Pearl River County Circuit Clerk Vickie Hariel said based on the Mississippi state marriage statute 93-1-1, marriage between persons of the same gender is prohibited and null and void from the beginning.

"I took an oath 13 years ago stating I would follow the laws of the State of Mississippi and the constitution of the United States. And that requires me to deny you this marriage license," said Hariel.

Hariel told the couple Mississippi's law is clear. "Stating any marriage between persons of same gender is prohibitive and null and void from the beginning. Any marriage between persons of the same gender that is valid in another jurisdiction is not a legal or valid marriage in Mississippi," explained Hariel.

Jenna Lockwood responded with, "It must be hard to uphold laws that you obviously see are discriminatory."

Hariel remarked, "The laws are not made by us but we do have to follow the law."

A group of supporters rallied around Welch and Lockwood as they left the Courthouse. Lockwood told WLOX NEWS, "It's definitely discouraging that federally we're recognized as a couple, but still in the state of Mississippi we're not."

The couple has been together for four years. Their symbolic action is part of the national "We Do" campaign. It targets states that doesn't allow same sex marriage.

The Reverend Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, one of the organizers of the campaign said, "What we're trying to do is help people understand what's at stake and these laws are actually harming real people who live in Poplarville who live in every town across Mississippi."

Lockwood and Welch say they'll be back. They are confident the same sex marriage laws will eventually be changed.

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