Buoyed by marriage equality victories on the coasts, same-sex couples are fighting for equality rights in the South:

“Not only are gay couples in Mississippi not allowed to marry, they cannot legally adopt — even though a quarter of same-sex couples here are raising children together, the highest percentage of any state, according to the Williams Institute.

“Nor are gays and lesbians in Mississippi protected from being fired or otherwise discriminated against by employers for their sexual orientation. (A federal employment protection bill is pending in Congress.) Some employers have barred gay workers from participating in the marriage-license campaign, saying it would be ‘bad for business.’

“Yet, couples like Welch and Lockwood refuse to move to a more liberal environment. This is home. They know the battle for equality in the South is unlikely to be won politically — at the ballot box or through state lawmakers — or through state courts. All they can do is share their personal stories in hopes that, on some level, their families, co-workers, neighbors, even the clerk at the courthouse will come to understand.”