Campaign pushes for same-sex marriage across the South

Campaign pushes for same-sex marriage across the south

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A big push is underway to legalize same-sex marriage in the South. Tuesday, the Alliance For Full Acceptance hosted Freedom to Marry, an organization that promotes marriage equality.

Jen Bennett and Sue Weller were married in Charleston in 2012. While South Carolina doesn't recognize their marriage, they say they wanted to take that step.

"We both contribute a lot in our volunteer life," says Bennett. "We're active in our church and to see ourselves as second class citizens doesn't really coincide with how we act on a daily basis."

Eighteen states have legalized same-sex marriage; however, none of those are in the southeast. Jake Loesch, the campaign manager for "Southerners for the Freedom to Marry, says opinions are slowly shifting across the South.

"It's an unprecedented time, and the momentum around marriage in the country is truly astounding. I think as more and more people have that conversation about what marriage means and why it matters to them and why they care about it and why people would want to get married, more and more people come around to understand that that matters to same-sex couples as well."

Loesch says there are 7,000 same-sex couples in South Carolina, and he says the south has the highest percentage of same-sex couples raising children.

"That speaks to the family values of the people who live here. People care about family. They want to raise children. They want to be good parents, and, right now, all of those children and all of those families are not respected, and they're discriminated against by their states."

Bennett says she and her wife are hopeful that South Carolina will come around.

"When Arkansas legalized same-sex marriage like a week-and-a-half ago, I think that that was the time when it filled my heart with a lot of optimism that it was going to happen sooner rather than later."

Earlier in the month, an Arkansas circuit judge made a ruling that overturned a 2004 same-sex marriage ban. The state's attorney general intends to ask the state Supreme Court to review that decision.