Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Federal judge: Miss. clerks can't cite their religious beliefs to deny same-sex marriage licenses

A federal judge ruled Monday that Mississippi clerks cannot cite religious beliefs for denying same-sex marriage licenses, Jimmie Gates reports for The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, In April, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed a Republican-led religious-objections House bill that proponents said protects religious freedom and critics said discriminates against gay people and others. Monday's ruling means that "no circuit clerk or staff member clerk can deny a gay couple a marriage license," even under the recently signed law, which goes into effect Friday.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said Monday, "If this opinion by the federal court denies even one Mississippian of their fundamental right to practice their religion, then all Mississippians are denied their First Amendment rights. I hope the state’s attorneys will quickly appeal this decision to the Fifth Circuit to protect the deeply held religious beliefs of all Mississippians.”

Last year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. Paul Barnes, attorney for the state, "said no same-sex couple has been denied a marriage license in Mississippi since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year," Gates reports. "HB 1523 provides circuit clerks and deputy clerks with the right to recuse themselves from providing a marriage license to same-sex couples if it is against their religious belief. However, the law outlined the steps that must be taken and said the clerks had to provide a way or information on how same-sex couples could get a marriage license." (Read more)

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