Five same-sex couples applied for marriage licenses at the Probate Court at the Dekalb County courthouse in Decatur as part of the WE DO campaign. It happened on the same day that the Supreme Court announced it would hear two gay marriage cases in late March.
The WE DO campaign calls for "for full equality under federal law for LGBT individuals and families."
Beyond just creating awareness about marriage equality, the campaign is also focused on legal protection for LGBT citizens, protecting them from being fired from their jobs, getting denied housing, or facing eviction because of their sexual preference.
The civil rights group, which is organized by the Campaign for Southern Equality, will move to several other Southern states in the coming days before ending at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Roughly 100 people marched silently from the Decatur Public Library to the Dekalb County courthouse. Outside the building, the Rev. Joe Hoffman led an inner-faith prayer circle.
"We gather today to celebrate love and to call for equality," Hoffman said as the group held hands in a wide circle.
Afterwards, the five same-sex couples entered the courthouse, passing under a sign that read "marriage and pistol licenses," and entered the marriage licenses office. The couples entered the room two at a time and approached the desk to request a license.
"We can't give a marriage license for same-sex marriage," Elizabeth Lewis, probate court supervisor, told Daphine Green and Kimberly Green. The Oakhurst couple, who have been together for three years, said that they would be back on "another day."
Rob Anglin and his partner Jens Palsgaard followed with their own request for a marriage license, but were also denied by the Probate Court.
"This is the law and I am an officer of the court, a clerk of the court," said Mary Jones, the Probate Court's senior tech. "I just can't do it, I am so sorry."
Rob Anglin responded: "I understand and I respect that. Hopefully things will change in the future and you will be able to let people have their day together and be afforded the respect that they deserve."
Although same-sex marriages are not recognized in Georgia, couples can now legally tie the knot in nine states as well as in the District of Columbia. In addition, Rhode Island and New Mexico recognize similar marriages performed outside of their jurisdictions. Twenty other states offer some form of protection for same-sex couples.
"Not only is same sex marriage not recognized in the state of Georgia, but gay people can be fired and denied housing just for being gay," said Aaron Sarvar of the Campaign for Southern Equality. "People are surprised to find that out, but it's true."
The Decatur rally followed Supreme Court's announcement that they would hear two cases in late March regarding gay marriage. One case focuses on California's Proposition 8, which makes same sex marriage illegal in California, and the other case looks at the denial of federal benefits to gay couples, who legally marry in a state that allows it but are not given the right to receive benefits that are available to heterosexual married couples. Both cases will be heard on March 26-27.
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