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Mississippi Clerks Forced to Compromise Faith

06-28-2016

A federal judge ruled against a law that would have allowed Mississippi clerks to cite their faith to avoid issuing same-sex marriage licenses. 

The religious objections measure, House Bill 1523, was set to become law this Friday, but U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves ruled that it is illegal for clerks to cite their religious beliefs. 

"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," Reeves wrote in his opinion Monday. "But the marriage license issue will not be adjudicated anew after every legislative session."

His decision effectively blocks House Bill 1523 from being enforced. Instead, clerks are now legally required to serve all couples whether or not they are gay.

Supporters say Reeves' ruling is about equality, while others see it as the complete disregard of the deeply held religious beliefs of many Mississippi residents. 

Reuters reports that Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves strongly criticize Judge Reeves' decision. 

"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," the lieutenant governor said in a statement. "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."

District Judge Reeves is also set to rule in two other cases, including one that would affect school bathroom policies for transgender students. 

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