Metro Weekly

Federal appeals court delays Mississippi same-sex marriages

Mississippi State Capitol - Credit: Visit Mississippi/flickr

Mississippi State Capitol – Credit: Visit Mississippi/flickr

A federal appeals court delayed the start of same-sex marriages in Mississippi while expediting the appeals process of the case in separate orders handed down Thursday.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals granted the request to extend the stay pending appeal of a lower court ruling overturning Mississippi’s same-sex marriage ban.

“[W]hile 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 three-judge panel declared. “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.”

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In a separate order, the 5th Circuit fast-tracked the appeal of the Mississippi case. Cases challenging same-sex marriage bans in Texas and Louisiana will be heard by the federal appeals court on January 9. The Mississippi case will likely be heard near that date by the same panel of judges. (Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the Louisiana case have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case before the appeals court has rendered judgement, a move the state of Louisiana has agreed with.)

On Nov. 25, U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves ruled Mississippi’s same-sex marriage ban violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment because it denies same-sex couples and their children equal dignity under the law and subjects gay and lesbian citizens to second-class citizenship. Reeves originally stayed his decision for 14 days. 

5th Circuit Mississippi Stay

Justin Snow is Metro Weekly's former political editor and White House correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @JustinCSnow.

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