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March 4th, 2013
06:00 PM ET

Marriage equality elusive in traditional South

Editor's Note: On March 26th and 27th, the US Supreme Court will hear two key cases regarding same-sex marriage. Every Monday and Tuesday in March, CNN Radio will feature stories about issues related to same-sex marriage.  

Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

By Susanna Capelouto, CNN

Atlanta, Georgia (CNN) - There are currently nine states in the U.S. which grant marriage equality, none of them in the South. As more and more Northern states accept same-sex marriages, gay and lesbian couples in the South are weighing their options.

Cameron Bridges decided to leave his native Georgia in December for Washington State, which approved same-sex marriage in November:

[:48] "More and more people are considering leaving areas that are not pro-marriage equality to areas that do have marriage equality," says Bridges.

Polls suggest that support for same sex-marriage is growing nationally, but regional differences are stark. A Pew study from last October found that New Englanders support same-sex marriage by 62 percent, while only 35 percent of people in Alabama and Arkansas support marriage equality. Organizations that fight same-sex marriage like the National Organization for Marriage don’t even worry about the region, because Southern states are so traditional:

[1:32] "They’re all pro-marriage territory," says NOM spokesman Thomas Peters. "You know gay marriage proponents will claim that gay marriage is inevitable, but all they’ve managed to do is pick up a few blue states."

But advocates for same-sex marriage are not deterred. Atlanta, which has one of the largest gay and lesbian populations in the country, issued a resolution in December supporting marriage equality. As a form of protest, the Campaign of Southern Equality is asking gay and lesbian couples in the South to go to courthouses and ask for a marriage license, even though they'll be denied.

Last week the Obama Administration issued a brief  in the U.S. Supreme Court case supporting same-sex marriage in California. Legally the President’s Argument right now pretty much leaves the issue up to the states. That position won't help same-sex couples in the South.

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soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. JustSayin

    [:48] “More and more people are considering leaving areas that are not pro-marriage equality to areas that do have marriage equality,” says Bridges.

    And more and more people are considering leaving areas that are becoming pro-gayanything to areas where government and civilians understand that the excellence of our government and society in America is owed to the changing moral effect of the preaching of the Gospel of Jerusalem Christmas.

    March 13, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JustSayin

    The more gay rights laws get passed the more I consider running for office to fight against debauchery.

    March 13, 2013 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • mickey1313

      Thiests are all so dumb.

      March 14, 2013 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
      • richard miller

        Made the world you live in sucker

        March 14, 2013 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  3. JustSayin

    Institution of marriage = Gen 5:4
    Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.
    This was the first. There will always be contention between bible believers and non. Belittling, or villa flying those who believe God ordained marriage will not cause us to change our minds after all we already now that not everyone will believe and we know that not everyone who claims to believe that book read it. In the end I have a feeling God will be heard and he will shut the mouths of all those who rail against Him and His Word.

    March 13, 2013 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. athens guy

    reason and fairness elude the South. always have.

    March 11, 2013 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JC

    It seems to me, not favoring marriage for someone else, based on your own beliefs makes as much sense as telling your neighbor he cant have a piece of pie because you are on a diet.

    March 11, 2013 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  6. sandy c

    dave and i have been together 30 years because we could never afford a divorce for him from his wife, we don't care. why people think that getting married by a person makes it Godly needs to re-open the bible and read. Let them have their marriages, it will lighten the higher court loads and save money that is used for tying up courts. It's okay to say we don't accept gay marriage, it is our right as Gods children and as Americans to say we do not agree with something as long as we do it in a decent manner. Just as we don't have to listen to them about the right of marriage they don't have to listen to us state we don't accept it. Lets quit beating this dead horse and move on.

    March 9, 2013 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cross-Outreach

      Sandy C – then you need to read your bible about "adultery" because that is exactly what our friend "Dave" and you are doing, please refer to Matthew 19:9. Not having enough money does not excuse the choices you made against what "God's word" says in plain print. Getting married is "Gods sacrament" and also you "make vows before God" too when you get married (you may want to also read 2 Timothy 3:5). We are all Gods children whether we want to admit it or not, yet I call into question "What God" you are calling yourself a child of since you also seem to support "The Gay Agenda" on top of what's already been outlined above. We already are watching our contru take a down-turn for morals and family values as absolutely no Christian would ever support anything having to do with any type of "agenda" lke thes ein this day in age. Further you may want to review 2 Timothy 3;16 – "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness"

      March 12, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
      • mickey1313

        This is not however a christian nation. And all forms of blue laws (laws made to enforce christian values) are all unconst itutional

        March 14, 2013 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
  7. avgjohn

    This article is written like the majority of people in northern states approve of homosexual marriage and their deviant lifestyles. They don't. Just canvas the family and friends around you. I guarantee you that most people find homosexuality disgusting. But there is a lot of political correctness pressure, slanted news stories and media campaigns to give the impression that it is widely accepted. State your oppositiont at work and it can get you fired or punished. One day, it will all come back on those pushing this agenda, mark my words.

    March 9, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • wilypagan

      You shouldn't threaten people for asking for equal rights under law. If you want to deprive your fellow citizens of their civil rights you don't deserve to hold any position of responsibility.

      March 9, 2013 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • kuhrdan1

      Mr.avgjohn, the degree of vehemence in your response suggests that you have a deep down urge to be plugged by another man. It is your fear and the violence in your words that are "disgusting." I suggest that you explore your feminine side, you might like beign next to chiseled pects.

      March 11, 2013 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rachel

      Maybe your inner circle of friends believes this way, but not everyone's friends and family do. The vast majority of people I know support equality. Denying any group of people the rights that everyone else has is the very definition of discrimination and no matter how you personally feel about a group DISCRIMINATION IS WRONG.

      March 12, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • mickey1313

      it does not really matter wether you agree or disagree with the morality. It matters, that you cannot stop others from doing what they want, if it is not harming others. Equality means equal for all, not just the folks who believe as you do.

      March 14, 2013 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
  8. richard miller

    Marriage is a heterosexual rite.While not everyone has children,it is tied to that being the foundation of our society,all societies.By giving homosexuals that validation,we open up EVERYTHING to them.Such as IVF and surrogacy.In no way should we give that right,nature hasn't.

    March 8, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • kuhrdan1

      Nature allows for cannabilism. Therefore in accordance to your logic, we should engage in stir frying human thigh meat. Or in many instances the female engages in killing its male partner. So it is a ritual that should be implemented. Let see, what else there is there about 'nature".....

      March 11, 2013 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JOHN

    Dont like it...leave. I dont like California laws (among other things), made by Californians for other Californians, so I dont live there.

    The bus station is closeby.

    March 8, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. tendofreak

    It's not so much the people as it is the politicians. The "good-ole-boy-club" has been around sooo long that they dont think they have to listen to the voters anymore. They will do whatever it is they want and be damned with everyone else. They have gerrymandered the voting precincts so that short of assination....ya cant get them out! Like trying to stamp out cockroaches with a flyswatter. Ya can get some but theres always more hiding in the corners! I've lived in the south all my life and I can say that a majority favor same sex (really we could care less one way or the other!) Legalizing marijuana, and the government keeping thier nose out of our business. Theres more but lets keep it slow for the politicans so they don get lost or confused.

    March 8, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jenny

    Looks like another Civil War....The North Vs. The South!!! I am gay, and I live in Texas....the state which will probably be the last liberal state in this nation to ever give me the right to legally marry my wife. I don't honestly care about other people's opinion on what they think of me and my rights. They can kiss my A** for all I care. I don't need a marriage license or piece of paper to tell me whether the woman I am with or not is my wife. She is my wife because I say she is and that to me is all that matters. The government can take it and shove it for all I care. They are so corrupt and think they have a right to make decisions with my life. They rape us of our taxes, they cheat on their wives, have hookers at every convention and hotel room they go to, and they want to claim they have the right to say what is moral and right when it comes to marriage and what the meaning of it is and they can't even keep their own legs closed. Politicians are the last person I would even look to when it comes to morals, values, ethics, or opinions on what marriage equality is. I don't need heightened scrutiny protection from the government, I carry that with me everywhere I go....its called a Glock 9 MM. People have a right to their opinion and can say what they want, just as I have a right to call the woman that I have a relationship with my wife. And I don't need a damn piece of paper to tell me whether its approved by our government or not because I could care less what anyone thinks.

    March 8, 2013 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • wilypagan

      You say it sister. I doubt any on those brain-dead, closet case Southern homophobes would dare mess with an all-American girl like you.

      March 9, 2013 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • richard miller

      Yawn

      March 14, 2013 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  12. David

    What is marriage equality? No state, no person, allows anyone to get married. We have age limits. We limit the the number of people a marriage can include. That is because marriage was always a heterosexual encounter that had many cultural stipulations. Marriage is not an individual right nor has it ever been. In the United States we used to try and put limit on who a person could have sex with. There was some sound logic in that persuasion... Anyways, would someone please explain to me the term marriage equality? While at it, how about giving me the logic behind marriage other than the religious and societal justifications.

    March 6, 2013 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. CautiousOptimism

    Anyone who thinks gay marriage threatens heterosexual marriage should read this piece:

    http://nyti.ms/YcMUuV ("Labels of Married Life, in a New Light")

    It really got me thinking! Perhaps there are some folks in southern states who would find it interesting, too.

    March 6, 2013 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  14. Culpepper

    I live in Alabama ... marriage equality is just the tip of the iceberg of what eludes the Deep South. To that list also add racial understanding, religious tolerance, grammar, reason, logic, critical thinking skills and hygiene

    March 6, 2013 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • kuhrdan1

      Given the hyper observance in maintaining 'traditions' furthers the erosion of needed skills to compete with world. It is encouraging that southern, well as states governed by Republican Teabagger fascists, encourage creationism. I hope that they expand in teaching sound principles of earth being flat or that babies are transported by storks. Least of all, that the earth was created in only 7 days.

      March 11, 2013 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. John

    I just moved to South Carolina this past summer, and the homophobia here is very blatant not only in children, but also in many teachers and adults.

    March 6, 2013 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • William

      Next time a good ole boy offers you a date, what you gonna do? Accept it or go back to San Francisco!?!

      March 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
      • Kat V

        That doesn't even make sense.

        March 7, 2013 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
      • kuhrdan1

        No, he will be waiting with bated breath for you, for a good ole time in the haystack!

        March 11, 2013 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Don P

    WHAT! Are you saying the pro-gay claim that over 50% of people including those in the South support same sex marriage is INCORRECT? Told you so

    March 6, 2013 at 7:57 am | Report abuse |
  17. Julie

    Let's hope the Supreme Court applies heightened scrutiny protection for gays and lesbians. Or else there will never be equal rights in the south. It will take moral courage to do the right thing for kids who are bullied because an anti-gay atmosphere is tolerated and taught.

    March 5, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Anthony

    The last paragraph is wrong. Obama said heightened scrutiny should apply to sexual orientation, which if adopted by SCOTUS, would mean every marriage ban would be struck down state by state as discriminatory.

    March 5, 2013 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anthony

      So in effect, they are nationalizing the issue without claiming there is a right to same sex marriage in the constitution. Pretty clever, in my opinion.

      March 5, 2013 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
      • Jessi

        "...No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws..." from Section 1 of Amendment 14.

        The constitution would condemn states denying same sex couples the same privileges to be married that heterosexual couples enjoy. So yes, any state gay marriage ban SHOULD be struck down as discriminatory from a constitutional standpoint. This isn't even going into how bans against gay marriage are detestable from a human rights standpoint, which they are, no matter how much pseudo-logic one would throw up as evidence to the contrary.

        March 9, 2013 at 6:54 am | Report abuse |
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