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Gays in Mississippi, fighting for rights, feel left behind as much of country accepts marriage

Jenna Lockwood was hugged by her sister, Jessica, after she and Kristen Welch were denied a marriage license.
Jenna Lockwood was hugged by her sister, Jessica, after she and Kristen Welch were denied a marriage license.Sean Gardner for The Boston Globe

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POPLARVILLE, Miss — Heartened as they were by last month’s Supreme Court decision recognizing same-sex marriage on the federal level, gay couples in the heart of Dixie say their joy at the country’s progress is bittersweet.

Across the South — home to a third of the country’s gays and lesbians and where gay marriage is universally banned — they say they are still relegated to living in the shadows as second-class citizens, trapped behind a web of state laws and hostile political and religious attitudes.

But instead of being written off as a lost cause, Mississippi and other southern states remain the focus of grass-roots gay rights campaigns. Among them is one organized by a Harvard-trained minister and heavily funded by a Jamaica Plain church.

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