Same-sex couples receive marriage licenses in Forrest County

Same-sex couples receive marriage licenses in Forrest County


that same-sex marriage was to be legalized in all 50 states, same-sex couples in the Pine Belt rushed to the Forrest County Court House to receive their marriage licenses.

Of those couples were Amber Himlton and Annice Smith of Laurel who have been together for six years, and have been fighting for years for equal rights.

"That's my wife, we've been together a long time, our relationship is real, I shouldn't have to fight to prove that," Smith said.

After they received their marriage license, Pastor Brandiilyne Dear performed a marriage ceremony on the courthouse steps. 

"It's more than just marriage, it's dreams coming true," Pastor Dear said.

While the couple were exchanging vows, Attorney General Jim Hood issued a statement regarding the issuing of marriage licences.

"The Supreme Court's decision is not immediately effective in Mississippi. It will become effective in Mississippi, and circuit clerks will be required to issues same-sex marriage licenses, when the 5th Circuit lifts the stay of Judge Reeves' order. This could come quickly or may take several days. The 5th Circuit might also choose not to lift the stay and instead issue an order, which could take considerably longer before it become effective," said Hood in his statement.

According to Forrest County Circuit Clerk Lou-Ann Adams, the attorney general's statement may mean the licence issued to the couples Friday could be invalid. Adams said she didn't have that statement before issuing the first marriage license, but the couple will still be able to apply. 

According to Deputy Clerk Carolyn Nelson, the marriages conducted today should be considered valid so long as they were conducted by a licensed minister or judge. The marriages performed today will be legal unless the law changes, according to Nelson. 

Despite the attorney general's statement and confusion surrounding the law, a second same-sex couple was married on the steps of the courthouse. Courtney Messemore and Leah Bloomfield were married with a license on their fifth anniversary. 

A third same-sex couple from Lumberton, Cameron Stewart and Amber Cameron, also applied for their marriage licenses and held a ceremony on the courthouse steps. Adams urged the couple to hold off on the license in case they are invalid, but the couple decided to apply regardless. Pastor Dear performed a commitment ceremony with them last year, but said she was excited to now be able to legally marry them. 

According to Adams, after consulting legal counsel, Forrest County Circuit Court will not issue any more marriage licenses until the ban is lifted. Two couples have now been denied marriage licenses. 

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