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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Maurice Blanchard says anti-gay sentiment was rampant where he grew up in South Carolina.

Now he's one of a group of plaintiffs in cases seeking to legalize same-sex marriage throughout the country.

"I would have never imagined that little me and this case would go all the way to the Supreme Court and have an opportunity to ultimately bring same-sex marriage equality throughout all the Deep South and the rest of the states," Blanchard said.

He and his partner, Dominique James, have been outspoken activists for same-sex marriage in Kentucky for several years.

Blanchard, a minister who graduates from the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary next month, says his Christian faith has guided his activism. He also is a volunteer leader of an outreach ministry for gay, lesbian and transgender people at Louisville's Highland Baptist Church.

The couple was arrested in 2013 after their request for a marriage license was denied and they took part in a peaceful protest. Blanchard told police who were trying to disperse the group that he was "spirituality obligated to stay" and protest in the license office, even after it closed.

Blanchard and James spent more than seven hours in jail, charged with trespassing.

Blanchard says they hope to adopt a child someday and are working on ways to pay for the expensive process. For now, Blanchard, 37, says he is optimistic about the Supreme Court case.

"I feel like we're going to have equality," he said.