- Civil marriage equality cannot legally be denied at the state level, via the Supreme Court of the United States, as of 26 June 2015. (Same-sex couples have the legal right to marry.)
- 29 June 2015, La., Miss. start issuing same-sex marriage licenses - From CBS News
- 27 June 2015, Even After Supreme Court Ruling, These States Are Still Resisting Same-Sex Marriage - By Casey Quinlan, ThinkProgress
- On 26 June 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled FOR marriage equality and that same-gender couples have the constitutional right to marry in all 50 states and all U.S. territories.
- MARRIAGE EQUALITY FAQ
- If a marriage license is refused to you, please contact one of the following legal organizations immediately!
- On 25 November 2014, U.S.District Judge Carlton Reeves issued a Preliminary Injunction prohibiting the state from enforcing the ban on same-sex marriage. On 4 December 2014, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay to Reeves' ruling. See Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant under LAWSUITS-PENDING below.
- 1 marriage case in Federal District Court; 1 same-sex divorce case in the state Supreme Court.
- Mississippi is the state that, historically, has polled the lowest in public support for marriage equality. Studies indicate the percentage of those opposed has gone down by about 1-2 percent per year since 2004.
- January 2014, the university town of Starkville became the first city in MS to adopt a symbolic inclusivity resolution asserting the worth of all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
- 3 April 2014, Gov. Phil Bryant (R) signed into law SB 2681, a “religious liberty” bill that could be used to justify various forms of discrimination, including anti-LGBT discrimination. The law became effective 1 July 2014.
- 5 September 2014, Starkville became the first municipality in the state to offer domestic-partner benefits to city employees. The Board of Aldermen approved the measure unanimously. Mayor Parker Wiseman also announced plans to appoint two liaisons to work with LGBT residents.
- Marriage equality was banned by state statute and 2004 constitutional amendment from 2004 until 2014.
Legislation - Enacted
SB2681 Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act; enact and modify the great seal
Author/Sponsor: Senator Gandy, Senator Hudson, Senator Jolly, Senator Smith, Senator Tindell, Senator Chassaniol, Senator Parker, Senator Polk, Senator Watson, Senator Burton, Senator Carmichael, Senator Fillingane, Senator Hale, Senator Harkins, Senator Jackson, Senator Lee, Senator Longwitz, Senator Ward, and Senator Collins
Date Introduced: 20 January 2014
Date Enacted: 1 July 2014
- Known as “License to Discriminate” legislation, and as Mississippi’s “new Jim Crow law,” the act protects religious people from legal repercussions if they verbally condemn the lifestyle or actions of LGBTQ people. Additionally, the bill expands the definition of an individual to include businesses, and so if a business owner thinks their religious beliefs would be violated by delivering service to an LGBTQ person, the Act allows them to deny them service, a move that some have called "anti-gay segregation". Instead of simply not protecting LGBT persons from discrimination, the Act actually protects those who choose to discriminate against LGBTQ people, if they use their religion as the basis for doing so.
- The Act reads: AN ACT TO ENACT THE MISSISSIPPI RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RESTORATION ACT; TO PROVIDE THAT STATE ACTION OR AN ACTION BY ANY PERSON BASED ON STATE ACTION SHALL NOT BURDEN A PERSON'S RIGHT TO THE EXERCISE OF RELIGION; TO AMEND THE 1818 MISSISSIPPI LAWS, ACT OF JANUARY 19, 1818, PAGE 142, TO REVISE THE GREAT SEAL OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI; TO PROVIDE THAT STATE AGENCIES SHALL CONTINUE TO USE STATIONERY AND OTHER SUPPLIES HAVING THE 1818 SEAL THEREON UNTIL SUPPLIES OF SUCH ITEMS ARE DEPLETED; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
- 3 April 2014, the Act was approved by the governor.
- The new state seal was unveiled on 1 July 2014.
Lawsuits - Pending
Czekala-Chatham v. Melancon
Court Level: State Supreme Court
Date Filed: 11 September 2013
Date of Appeal: 23 December 2013
- On 11 September 2013, Lauren Beth Czekala-Chatham asked the state to recognize her out-of-state marriage to a woman for the purpose of filing for divorce. Czekala-Chatham had married her wife, Dana Ann Melancon, in California in 2008. The couple lived together in Southaven, Mississippi but separated in 2010.
- 3 December 2013, a Mississippi judge refused to grant the divorce, saying the marriage wasn't recognized under state law.
- 15 September 2014, the Mississippi Supreme Court said it will hear this case, rather than assigning it to the Court of Appeals.
- 16 September 2014, the Court approved Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant's motion to intervene. The governor is represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom and is opposing Lauren Czekala-Chatham's appeal.
- 23 May 2014, the appellant, Czekala-Chatham, filed her brief.
- 25 August 2015, the State of Mississippi filed its brief.
- 22 November 2015, oral arguments were scheduled for 21 January 2015. Mississippi Supreme Court schedules arguments in same-sex divorce case - By Jack Elliott Jr., AP, via LGBTQNation
- 21 January 2015, the Mississippi Supreme Court heard oral arguments. Here is video of today's argument. The justices enter around the 5:40 mark. For reference, here is the Mississippi Amendment, Article XIV, section 263A of the Mississippi Constitution: "Marriage may take place and may be valid under the laws of this state only between a man and a woman. A marriage in another state or foreign jurisdiction between persons of the same gender, regardless of when the marriage took place, may not be recognized in this state and is void and unenforceable under the laws of this state"
- 24 February 2015, the Court ordered the parties to provide additional briefs on the question: "In light of Mississippi's public policy of not allowing or recognizing a marriage between two persons of the same gender, what rational basis supports the interpretation or application of a law or constitutional provision so as to prohibit Mississippi courts from granting a divorce to a Mississippi resident who was lawfully married in another state to a person of the same gender?" Justices Chandler, King and Kitchens object.
Lawsuits - Resolved
Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant
Case #: 3-14-cv-00818
Court Level: 5th Circuit Court of Appeals
Date Filed: 21 October 2014
Date of Ruling: 1 July 2015
- 20 October 2014, a federal marriage lawsuit was filed, with Edie Windsor's attorney Roberta Kaplan as lead counsel in the case. The case has been assigned to Obama appointee Judge Carlton W. Reeves.
- 20 October 2014, the plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction and a memo in support.
- 21 October 2014, via a docket text entry, a Telephone Status Conference was set for 22 October 2014 at 9:00am CT before District Judge Carlton W. Reeves.
- 22 October 2014, the schedule was set for the Plaintiffs' motion for Preliminary Injunction.
- A hearing before U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves is set for 9:00 a.m. CT on Wednesday, 12 November 2014, in Jackson.
- 10 November 2014, the state defendants filed their Opposition to Preliminary Injunction. A Memo in Opposition was also filed.
- 10 November 2014, the state filed their "just in case" Contingent Motion for a stay and Memo in support of the motion for stay.
- 10 November 2014, the state defendants filed their Answer and Defenses to the Complaint.
- 10 November 2014, Reply memorandum of law was filed in further support of plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction.
- 12 November 204, hearing took place in Jackson, MS. From Both sides rest in Mississippi gay-marriage ban case, by Emily Le Coz of the The Clarion-Ledger: Both sides on a federal case challenging Mississippi's gay-marriage ban rested after three hours of arguments Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Carton Reeves, who dismissed the court for a lunch break set to end at 1:45 p.m. The hearing likely will end today, but it's unclear if Reeves will immediately issue a decision on the question at hand: Whether to grant the plaintiff's motions for preliminary injunction against the state's gay-marriage ban or whether to grant the defense's motion to stay the case. Transcript of the hearing.
- 25 November 2014, Judge Reeves issued a Preliminary Injunction, with a temporary stay of 14 days. Woot!
- 26 November 2014, the state defendants filed a Notice of Appeal to the 5th Circuit.
- 26 November 2014, the state filed a motion to the 5th Circuit asking for stay pending appeal.
- 4 December 2014, the briefing schedule was set. The State's opening brief is due 19 December 2014, the plaintiffs' brief is due 24 December 2014, and the State's Reply is due 2 January 2015. The oral argument notice will issue separately.
- 4 December 2014, also, an order on the plaintiff's Motion to expedite appeal was issued. The Motion to expedite was granted (see above for briefing schedule), the appeal will be assigned to the same panel, and oral argument will not be consolidated with Texas and Louisiana. No word yet on what date.
- 4 December 2014, the 5th Circuit GRANTED a stay pending appeal. "Finally, while we recognize that Plaintiffs are potentially harmed by a continued violation of their constitutional rights, this harm is attenuated by the imminent consideration of their case by a full oral argument panel of this court. The court is scheduled to hear challenges related to Louisiana’s and Texas’s marriage bans in one month and has recently issued an order granting Plaintiffs’ application to expedite their appeal and scheduled the case for oral argument before the same panel. Given that Plaintiffs’ claims will soon be heard in conjunction with these two other cases, a temporary maintenance of the status quo balances the possibility of this harm with the need to resolve Plaintiffs claims in a manner that is both expeditious and circumspect."
- 5 December 2014, the case is now reflected on the 5th Circuit's calendar for 9 January 2015, 30 minutes per side.
- 19 December 2014, the defendant State of MS filed its opening brief.
- 19 December 2014, the appellants filed their Record Excerpts.
- 23 December 2014, the plaintiffs' Brief was filed with the 5th Circuit.
- 29 December 2014, the panel for the marriage cases is now posted on 5th Circuit calendar: Judges Patrick E. Higginbotham, Jerry E. Smith and James E. Graves, Jr.
- 2 January 2015, Mississippi filed its Reply brief.
- 5 January 2015, the 5th Circuit posted the rules for attendance for the oral argument Friday, 9 January 2015.
- 8 January 2015, round up of information from Equality Case Files on Friday's 5th Circuit oral arguments, including links to briefs filed in this case and the Texas and Louisiana marriage cases.
- 9 January 2015, audio of today's 5th Circuit oral argument is now available.
- 1 July 2015, the Fifth Circuit Reversed the lower court's decision and Remanded for entry of judgement in favor of the plaintiffs!
- 1 July 2015, Judge Reeves entered a permanent injunction and final judgment in this case.
- 2 July 2015, the plaintiffs' attorneys asked for an order clarifying that the permanent injunction in this case "applies to each and every one of Mississippi's 82 circuit clerks and their deputies, including but not limited to the clerks of Holmes, Issaquena, Simpson, and Smith Counties."
Ballot Initiatives - Passed
- November 2013 polling results from Public Policy Polling showed that 49% of Mississippians supported some form of legal recognition for same-sex couples; up from 38% only a couple years ago. However, only 22% of Mississippi voters supported the legalization of same-sex marriage. Poll Details
- 12 July 2013, HRC President Chad Griffin stated that results of a bipartisan poll looking at Mississippians’ positions on LGBT issues showed 58 percent of Mississippians under 30 supported marriage equality. The poll was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, a Democratic firm, and Target Point Consulting, a Republican firm, from 26 June 2013 – 9 July 2013.