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Clerks in Miss. cannot use religious beliefs to deny marriage licenses

Mississippi State Capitol
Photo credit:
dickndebbietravels.com

On Monday a federal judge ruled that Mississippi clerks cannot refuse marriage licenses to LGBT couples because of personal religious beliefs reports Reuters. 

This is in direct conflict to House Bill 1523 passed by the state legislature that allowed clerks such religious provisions in the past.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves said the bill violates the Supreme Court’s 2015 “Obergefell” landmark decision legalizing marriage to gays and lesbians.

“Mississippi’s elected officials may disagree with Obergefell, of course, and may express that disagreement as they see fit - by advocating for a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision, for example,” Judge Reeves wrote in his ruling.

He adds, “But the marriage license issue will not be adjudicated anew after each legislative session.”  

Judge Reeves has yet to rule on other state legislative provisions, some of which carry religious freedom language.

Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves, was quick to respond to the Monday ruling.

“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 1st Amendment rights,” He said. “I hope the state’s attorneys will quickly appeal this decision to the 5th Circuit to protect the deeply held religious beliefs of all Mississippians.”

Kentucky was at the center of a similar marriage equality controversy last year when County Clerk Kim Davis refused to issue marriage licenses to couples after the Obergefell ruling, citing personal religious beliefs.

In that case, a law was passed so that clerks need not sign their names to marriage licenses if they disagree with the union.