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Why we're suing for marriage equality in Mississippi

UPDATE 1/7/15: On Friday, January 9, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans will hear an appeal in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant, alongside other marriage cases from Texas and Louisiana. Here’s what you need to know as the appeals move forward.

Joce Pritchett and her wife Carla Webb are plaintiffs in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant, a federal lawsuit challenging Mississippi’s ban on same-sex marriage. Joce and Carla were married in Maine last year and live in Hinds County, Mississippi with their two children. A hearing on their motion for preliminary injunction will take place in federal court on Wednesday, November 12 before Judge Carlton W. Reeves.

Send Joce and Carla a message of support!

(Joce Pritchett (left) and Carla Webb are suing to have their marriage recognized in their home state of Mississippi.)

By Joce Pritchett

I know that people don’t believe in love at first sight, but the second I walked up to Carla 11 years ago, I felt like I’d known her my whole life. It didn’t take us long to figure out that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.

Like most couples, we’ve experienced ups and downs–we’ve managed businesses together, started a family and grown closer through everything. We’ve been blessed with two beautiful children, which means our days are filled with swim lessons, horseback riding and trips to the children’s museum. They’ve changed our lives in one thousand wonderful ways.

Last year, our little girl, Grace, came home from school and asked why we weren’t married like her friends’ parents. We had to explain to her that there were some bad laws in Mississippi that didn’t allow us to get married here. . . . → Read More: Why we’re suing for marriage equality in Mississippi

Meet Andrea & Becky, plaintiffs in the Mississippi marriage equality lawsuit

Andrea and Becky are raising twin boys and are suing for marriage equality in Mississippi.

“Hi, I’m Becky. Would you like some Tylenol?”

Those were the first words that Becky Bickett spoke to Andrea Sanders in 2004. Andrea was suffering from a headache after a long day at work, but still promised she’d meet Becky. They’ve been together ever since.

Ten years later, Becky and Andrea are now raising twin boys, and suing for the right to marry in Mississippi. The couple joins Jocelyn Pritchett and her wife Carla Webb, along with the Campaign for Southern Equality, in a lawsuit challenging Mississippi’s ban on marriage equality.

Read more about Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant, the federal lawsuit challenging Mississippi’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Becky and Andrea have lived together in Pass Christian for the past five years, and they’ve each called Mississippi home for about 15 years.

Andrea spoke with CSE about LGBT life in Mississippi and what marriage equality would mean for her family.

Andrea and Becky are raising twin boys and are suing for marriage equality in Mississippi.

CSE: What makes Mississippi feel like home for you?

Andrea: We have been here for long enough to have gained and lost loved ones in this state. Most of our nieces and nephews were born here, we met each other here, our boys were born here. Becky has lost her grandmother and uncle here, and I lost my father living here. We have history, memories, and ties. We bought our first home in Mississippi, and graduated from Southern Miss.

When we go to the store, even a large one, people know us, they know our kids, they say “Hi,” and we have a conversation with them like we are old friends. Mississippi is a part of us, and it will always be our home.

CSE: When did you first . . . → Read More: Meet Andrea & Becky, plaintiffs in the Mississippi marriage equality lawsuit

Same-sex couple denied marriage license in Tennessee

On Thursday morning, October 16, Raymie and his partner Matt walked into the Hamblen County County Courthouse and did what many Tennessee couples do when they’re in love: They asked for a marriage license.

“The only thing separating our family and having equality is a 45-minute drive across state lines,” Raymie explained to the Hamblen County Clerk. He was referring to North Carolina, which gained marriage equality last Friday.

But because they’re a gay couple, they were denied. Their state doesn’t recognize recognize their relationship – even though they’ve been together for nine years.

Matt and Raymie, who’ve been together for 9 years, applied for a marriage license for the second time in their hometown of Morristown, Tennessee.

Less than a week ago, Matt and Raymie drove over to Asheville, North Carolina and celebrated with their friends after a federal judge struck down Amendment One and same-sex marriages began. They watched as clergy performed weddings on the steps of the Buncombe County Register of Deeds Office, legally uniting dozens of couples.

Thursday was the second time they’ve asked their local clerk for a license, and they plan to keep going back until marriage equality comes to Tennessee. A ruling on the issue of marriage could be handed down from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals any day now, impacting Tennessee and neighboring states.

. . . → Read More: Same-sex couple denied marriage license in Tennessee

PHOTOS: North Carolina families are ready for equality

A ruling in favor of marriage equality in North Carolina is expected any moment. When it happens, it will impact the lives of thousands of LGBT families in the Tarheel State.

Check out who’s ready:

Mark and Tim are waiting in Winston-Salem

Watch what happened when they were denied a marriage license the first time and had to go all the way to D.C. to get legally married.


Amy and Lauren are waiting in Asheville

Kay and Ryn are ready in Waynesville

Scott and Joey are ready in Charlotte

In fact, Joey and Scott are so ready that they’ve been camping out at their local Register of Deeds office, waiting for a marriage equality ruling to drop any minute.

Trudy and Justine, plaintiff couples in a federal marriage equality case in NC, are ready in Raleigh.

Amy and Diane are ready in Candler.

Tyler and Nils are ready in Asheville

Jerry and Brent are ready in Winston-Salem.

Jan and Beth are ready in Hendersonville.

Keisha and Dare are ready in Marion.

Dare told her local TV station why it was important that she and Keisha had the same legal protections as her friends and neighbors.

Mary and Carole are ready in Hendersonville. In fact, they’ve been ready for 41 years.

Cathy and Diane, partners of 15 years and plaintiffs in General Synod of the UCC v. Cooper, waited at their church in downtown Asheville all day on Thursday, October 9, in hopes that a federal judge would mandate marriage equality in North Carolina.

Janie and Alexis are ready in Asheville.

PHOTOS: North Carolina families are ready for equality

PHOTOS: North Carolina couples wait for marriage ruling

Since the Supreme Court rejected an appeal of a 4th Circuit ruling striking down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage, North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia have all been preparing for the reality of marriage equality.

As of now, no one knows when Day One for marriage will be in North Carolina, but lots of cool things are happening in the meantime as couples, allies and officials get ready.

Couples have been camping out in counties across the state in hopes that a ruling will be issued any minute. Many couples have waited all day.

Tracey has been hanging out at the Guilford County Register of Deeds with her wife Cheryl.

Scott from Charlotte is filling out a marriage license application at the Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds for himself and his partner Joey.

Cathy and Diane have been hanging out at the First Congregational UCC in Asheville all day long.


Some counties have been proactive in preparing for LGBT marriage applications.

Wake County, North Carolina has updated their online marriage application to be gender neutral.


And some parts of the state are having a hard time hiding their pride.


City Hall in Asheville got a makeover when someone draped it in a huge Pride flag.

Keep checking in with us on our Facebook page and Twitter as we keep you updated on marriage equality in North Carolina and throughout the South.

. . . → Read More: PHOTOS: North Carolina couples wait for marriage ruling