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Mississippi staunchly defends bill to let clerks refuse to marry gays

Joseph McCormick May 28, 2016
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The state of Mississippi is continuing to defend a new law which lets circuit clerks refuse to issue marriage licences to same-sex couples.

Attorneys acting for the state are defending HB1523 against two new legal challenges.

The two challenges were filed in federal court earlier in May.

Phil Bryant

One hopes to re-open a case filed in 2014, which helped to overturn the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Another is a brand new lawsuit.

Attorneys for Mississippi filed challenges to both lawsuits in court this week. Of the 2014 suit, attorneys said it should not be re-opened.

But the lawsuits argue that the courts should declare that HB 1523 is in violation of the 14th Amendment.

The bill allows clerks who claim they have a religious objection to same-sex marriage to file a form with the vital records registrar.

It takes effect on 1 July.

Despite Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant desperately wanting to include the state in a lawsuit with 11 other states suing the Obama administration over trans-inclusivity, attorney general Jim Hood has put a dampener on that.

In a statement on Thursday, Governor Phil Bryant said he intends to have the state join the lawsuit.

“I intend, as soon as possible, to join the lawsuit against this latest example of federal overreach,” Bryant said.

But later on Thursday, Hood said it was only the attorney general who could represent Mississippi in the lawsuit, and he had reviewed it and decided not to join.

“I suspect transgender people have been using the restrooms of their gender identity for many decades,” Hood said in his statement.

“This activity by a small percentage of people has gone virtually unnoticed by our society for probably a century. Nevertheless, the issue has now been placed before our courts.”

Bryant has signed up to the lawsuit in the name of his office, but not representing the state.

More: Mississippi, US

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