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Gay couple's courageous stand in Marion, North Carolina

Keisha and Dericka knew that when they went to the McDowell County Register of Deeds’ Office this morning to request a marriage license as part of the WE DO Campaign, they would almost certainly be denied. What they didn’t expect, however, was that 150 counter-protestors would hold a rally on the courthouse lawn.

WE DO participants pray in front of the McDowell County Courthouse, where hundreds of anti-gay protestors had gathered.

WE DO participants pray in front of the McDowell County Courthouse, where hundreds of anti-gay protestors had gathered.

With the sounds of condemnation in the background, the couple received a blessing from their minister, Rev. Christy Corna, who will officiate their wedding ceremony in September. They then proceeded to the Register of Deeds Office, hand-in-hand, followed by friends and supporters.

“This is what courage looks like–for Keisha and Dericka and their friends to stand up publicly for equality when there is so much pressure to stay silent, when you are outnumbered by those who are protesting you,” said Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality. “

Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara leads the group of WE DO participants in prayer.

Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara leads the group of WE DO participants in prayer.

As they stood at the counter, Keisha and Dare held their heads high and stated their intentions to the clerk. They handed their drivers’ licenses to the clerk, who examined them and stated that they were ineligible for a marriage license because they are a same-sex couple. Keisha and Dare explained that they want their family to be recognized by the state of North Carolina and by their hometown of Marion. The clerk refused to accept their application or to write “DENIED” on it.

Keisha (left) and Dericka attempt to submit their application for a marriage license in McDowell County, North Carolina.

Keisha (left) and Dericka attempt to submit their application for a marriage license in McDowell County, North Carolina.

As they left the office and stepped back outside, the couple was greeted by friends and supporters cheering.

“I hope that what we did today can help my future children have a better life,” said Dare. “I hope that no child has to encounter some of the struggles I have.”

Dare and Keisha share a lighthearted moment after being denied a marriage license.

Because of North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage, Keisha and Dericka will travel to Washington, D.C. this weekend to legally marry.

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