Historic: Two same-sex couples record marriages in Hancock Chancery Court
By Geoff Belcher
Aug 15, 2014, 22:02
Mary Dirigo, left, and Pam Watson at the Hancock Chancery Clerk’s Land Records office.
Beck and Angela Usé on Wednesday handed their marriage license to Katie Lee, a deputy clerk in the Chancery Court Clerk’s Land Records office and Lee filed it, making the couple's union the first same-sex marriage ever recorded in Hancock County.
They were followed moments later by Pam Watson and Mary Dirigo.
Both couples were participating in a state-wide effort Wednesday organized by the Campaign for Marriage Equality.
Same-sex marriage is still illegal in Mississippi. Beck and Angela were wed almost a year ago in Connecticut; Pam and Mary married about six years ago in California.
Although both marriages were recorded only in the chancery court's "miscellaneous" file, all four said they viewed the recognition as a victory.
"I'm really relieved we were able to record it," Mary said afterward. "It was easier than we thought it was going to be. It's a small gesture, really, but it means everything."
"It's kind of validating, I guess," Beck said, "but at the same time, we know it doesn't mean that much, really. It's a gesture, but it's important."
"It feels awesome, Dirigo said. "It's just wonderful – we feel fantastic having our family and friends here watching us validate what we've known all along: That our marriage is just as valid as anyone else's."
"I'm very grateful," Watson said. "It's been a good road and I'm glad we ended up here. ... Here on the Coast, especially in Diamondhead where we live, we have felt welcome. We have not run into a lot of people who are stridently against us."
Lindsey Simerly, organizer of the Campaign for Marriage Equality's "We Do" effort, said it was especially gratifying to see the acceptance in Hancock County, particularly in light of the fact that the Harrison County Chancery Court turned three same-sex couples away on Wednesday.
"It's really wonderful to get to stand with couples that are legally married," Simerly said. "It makes me really inspired to see them stand up for themselves and their families, especially in small towns.
"This campaign will continue all around the south until there is full-LGBT equality in every southern state."
"I think what happened here today is a very important thing for the people of Mississippi," Jeff White-Perkins, founder of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Rainbow Center, said Wednesday. "It shows how many same-sex couples we have here and shows what we have to go through just to be treated as normal. Today shows that time is coming, and it's exciting."