Court Blocks Mississippi Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Most people have heard the phrase, “thank God for Mississippi,” well today people can say it and actually mean it in a positive way. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves gave?same-sex couples a partial victory in their quest to overturn Mississippi’s same-sex marriage ban.

Reeves issued a preliminary injunction blocking the state’s ban of same-sex unions as sought by the Campaign for Southern Equality and two lesbian couples who sued the state in federal court. The judge issued a stay?postponing the injunction from going into effect for 14 days.

The Campaign for Southern Equality filed the lawsuit on Oct. 20 on behalf of the two Mississippi couples — Rebecca Bickett and Andrea Sanders, who challenge the legality of the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, and Carla Webb and Jocelyn Pritchett, who are seeking equal recognition for their marriage legally performed in Maine.

In his order Judge Reeves stated:

“Mississippi continues to change in ways its people could not anticipate even 10 years ago. Allowing same-sex couples to marry, however, presents no harm to anyone. At the very least, it has the potential to support families and provide stability for children.”

The 14 day stay gives the state of Mississippi time to appeal. There has been no word so far from Attorney General Jim Hood if he will appeal to the 5th circuit court of appeals (which they just lost their appeal on the abortion case in) or whether he will cut his losses and pack it up. It is assumed from previous state actions the state will appeal.

The 5th Circuit is set to rule on two other pending same-sex marriage cases from Louisiana and Texas. Which are set for oral arguments the week of Jan. 5. Those rulings could impact the Mississippi case if it’s on appeal.

At the same time, the Supreme Court might agree to a hear one of several other same-sex marriage cases elsewhere in the country, with its decision ultimately superseding those made in the federal or circuit courts.

Roberta Kaplan, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, stated to the Clarion Ledger:

“We’re thrilled that Judge Reeves understood and appreciated and took such great care and time to explain why gay people have the same rights under the constitution as everyone else. . . I think this opinion is going to stand as truly as a landmark opinion in this area.”

Jocelyn Pritchett, one of the plaintiffs in the case, responded with this comment to Liberal America:

“We are overjoyed that a federal judge found Mississippi’s LGBT marriage ban unconstitutional! Our family is just as valid and just as real as any family in Mississippi. We know there’s a stay for now on marriages and we realize the state will likely appeal. But we will see this through to the end. Our dreams are valid — even in Mississippi.

When they introduced SB 2681 and tried to make it legal to discriminate against my family… They messed with the wrong mama. We will not stop fighting now until Mississippi recognizes and treats ALL her citizens with dignity and fairness. All of them.”

Kaplan said she is ready to follow through, as well, stating:

“We will win this one in the 5th Circuit, too.”

According to the Clarion Ledger, during the 5 hour hearing while plaintiffs called the Mississippi law baseless and discriminatory, the state took a totally different approach.?The state’s lead attorney, Justin Matheny, framed the Mississippi ban as necessary to promote “responsible procreation” among married couples who are able to bear children. I don’t know, that argument doesn’t seem like a good counter to, “I’m going to take away your rights and harm your family.” Hey, no one ever said that those who try to mix religion and government plan well in the reasoning department.

Personally, I don’t even know what that means. Mr. Matheny, as a bisexual in Mississippi raising seven children, I feel mighty responsible. I know plenty of people gay, lesbians, bi, trans*, queer and straight who are raising families just fine. If you need to hold back same sex marriage to get your heterosexual marriage right and have children free pro tip, you’re doing it wrong!

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Laurie Bertram Roberts is the president of Mississippi National Organization for Women, a feminist activist, full spectrum doula and writer in Jackson, MS. Her family suspected she was trouble when at age 8 she preferred reading weekly news magazines over girly magazines. Her early fascination with liberal ideals, women's rights, was not quite welcome in her conservative fundamentalist Christian home. She is incredibly passionate about reproductive justice and fighting all forms of oppression. When not speaking truth to power she is likely hanging out with her children watching sci fi or doing other nerd like things.