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Showing support for marriage equality

Supporters rally for same-sex marriage

By LaReeca Rucker
The Oxford Eagle

Tina Frizzell and the love of her life spent 15 years together before they were married last January in California.

This month marks their first wedding anniversary, and January could be a game-changer in lives of gay Mississippians like Frizzell and her partner.

On Friday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments that could lift a ban on same-sex marriage in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. That would mean Frizzell’s California marriage license is valid in Mississippi.

“I was in the Navy for eight years,” Frizzell said Friday afternoon while standing in the cold with others outside of the Federal Building in Oxford during a rally supporting gay marriage. “Any of my Navy benefits would not have been passed on to my partner had we not been married, but because they overturned the federal ban, she is able to be buried with me in the national cemetery, and she gets the same benefits that straight couples would.”

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in U.S. v. Windsor that samesex married couples would receive federal benefits, striking down the section of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that limited marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

“That was the whole purpose of us going ahead and getting married before they legalized it here in Mississippi,” said Frizzell, who believes that allowing same sex couples to marry in Mississippi will set a tone that allows for better understanding.

“I have a friend who lost custody of their kids because (the couple) is gay,” she said. “The decision is going to really help prevent that.

“You are still going to have people go out and do what society thinks they should do. They will marry someone, even though they are telling that lie to themselves. But I think the decision is going to help change that over time. Those stereotypes won’t be there.”

Horn Lake resident Barbara Bugg also attended the rally Friday. Bugg represents an organization called Get Equal that unites people and organizations working for equal rights in the LGBT community.

“There are so many legal benefits to being married that I think we ought to all have the same legal rights as (straight) citizens of Mississippi,” she said.

California native Jeffrey Butler, who also attended the rally, has lived in Oxford with his partner the past four years. Butler, who said he has known he was gay since he was 4 years old, tried to deny it by joining the military.

“I was in the Marine Corps for six years,” he said. “I went into the military thinking it could change me for society.”

Today, with a new perspective, Butler believes gay marriage should be legalized across the board in every state. He hopes that doing so will impact the state more broadly, by opening the door for gay couples to adopt children in Mississippi.

“Myself and my partner, we will never biologically have children for obvious reasons, but I think it would be great for us to be able to adopt and have a family in Mississippi, and be considered as husbands who have children.”

Oxford resident Jeff Stricklin, who attended the rally Friday, said marriage laws should “be fair for everybody.”

“I don’t think there can be anything negative that happens from someone having the same opportunity as everyone else,” he said. “People worrying about the sanctity of marriage who are on their third marriage don’t have a place to stand on. Or what? Someone was married for 45 minutes, but gay marriage is destroying the sanctity of marriage?”

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