HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from the Campaign for Southern Equality
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex couples across Mississippi and in all 50 states have a constitutional right to marry. An estimated 3,484 same-sex couples live across Mississippi, with 29 percent of those couples raising children, which is the highest percentage in the nation.
"LGBT families in Mississippi have always been equal in the eyes of God but now, finally, they are also equal under the law, with a safety net of legal protections surrounding them. With great joy, we expect that marriages will begin immediately in Mississippi," says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality. Through this landmark decision, the Court has signaled that policies that treat LGBT people as second-class citizens do not fulfill the American promise of equal protection under the law and cannot stand."
"What a glorious day for this great country. By recognizing once and for all that the Constitution respects the dignity of all Americans, gay or straight, the Supreme Court has once again honored the core American values of equal protection and due process of law," said Roberta Kaplan, lead counsel in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant, the lawsuit in which the Mississippi District Court declared Mississippi's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, and United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court case that struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and laid the foundation for today's ruling. "We are confident that Mississippi officials statewide will honor their constitutional duties and will move quickly to begin issuing marriage licenses to our clients Andrea Sanders and Becky Bickett and to the many other Mississippians who have waited so long to protect their families by marrying the person who they love."?
Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant challenged the constitutionality of marriage laws in Mississippi that banned marriage between same-sex couples and deny recognition of same-sex marriages performed out-of-state. The lawsuit was filed on October 20, 2014, on behalf of two same-sex couples – Andrea Sanders and Rebecca (Becky) Bickett, and Jocelyn (Joce) Pritchett and Carla Webb – and the Campaign for Southern Equality, which represents its members across Mississippi. On November 25, 2014 U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves issued a ruling in the case, finding that the state law banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on the issue of marriage equality, Judge Reeves ruling will now go into effect.
The Campaign for Southern Equality has been advocating for LGBT equality across Mississippi since 2012 and is conducting a public education campaign to accompany the case.
LGBT Life in Mississippi:
An estimated 3,484 same-sex couples live in Mississippi according to 2010 Census Data; Mississippi has the highest rate nationally of LGBT couples raising children at 29 percent; LGBT people in Mississippi are more likely to live in poverty than heterosexual counterparts; Public support for marriage equality in Mississippi is growing. Among Mississippi residents under age 30, 58 percent support marriage equality according to a 2013 poll; Despite the ruling today from the U.S. Supreme Court, under current state laws, you can be fired simply for being gay in Mississippi.