JACKSON, MISS– Same-sex marriage licenses have started going out across Mississippi. Attorney General Jim Hood sent an email Monday morning saying that the licenses could begin going out now. Circuit clerks will be unable to deny the licenses when the stay lifts.
Here’s the full email from Attorney General Jim Hood
Dear Circuit Clerks,
The statement my assistants sent to you on Friday morning regarding the decision in Obergefell v. Hodges seems to have been misinterpreted as prohibiting Circuit Clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. The statement was merely meant to explain that an order of the Fifth Circuit would be necessary to lift the stay.
The Fifth Circuit stay order did not stay the Mississippi district judge’s order until the Supreme Court decided the issue, but until the Fifth Circuit made a decision. An Alabama District Court stayed its own order pending resolution by the Supreme Court. When the U.S. Supreme Court decision was rendered Friday, the Alabama stay was automatically dissolved without the necessity of further action of the court. In Texas, the district judge issued a stay of its order, but did not expressly make it contingent upon the Supreme Court decision. The Texas district judge ordered the stay lifted on Friday. Georgia was not successfully sued, so its marital law was unconstitutional without any order of a court. Similarly, had Mississippi not been sued, by operation of law there would be no more action required by a court. The Supreme Court only addressed the Sixth Circuit cases and did not consolidate or rule on the cases pending before the Fifth Circuit. Consequently, the Supreme Court did not reverse or address the cases pending before the Fifth Circuit. Since the stay by the Fifth Circuit is still in effect, Mississippi’s case remains in the bosom of the Fifth Circuit to interpret the ruling of the Supreme Court.
On Friday, the plaintiffs in the Mississippi case filed a motion to which our office acquiesced asking the court for an immediate order lifting the stay. Since there was no order on Friday or over the weekend, this morning our office will request that the Fifth Circuit expedite its ruling in spite of the 25 day period for the filing of a motion for rehearing before the Supreme Court. If the stay is lifted, Circuit Clerks will be required to issue licenses to same sex couples by striking the gender portion of the application and writing in the sex of each applicant.
Nevertheless, regardless of the status of the case before the Fifth Circuit, Obergefell is the law of the land. If a clerk has issued or decides to issue a marriage license to a same sex couple, there will be no adverse action taken by the Attorney General against that circuit clerk on behalf of the State. In such cases, it might be wise to advise same sex applicants that the validity of a marriage licenses issued prior to the stay being legally lifted might be contested in any potential divorce action or in future estate proceedings. On the other hand, a clerk who refuses to issue a marriage license to a same sex couple could be sued by the denied couple and may face liability. Whatever course you decide to take, you should consult with the county board attorney about the issuance of licenses in light of the Supreme Court’s opinion on Friday.
That email was tweeted out by the Campaign for Southern Equality.
Hinds County Circuit Clerk Barbara Dunn got the email Monday morning, and they started issuing marriage licenses immediately.
“I got a letter from the A.G.’s office that said for us to go ahead and issue them,” Dunn said. “It’s my understanding that this from the Attorney General’s office says you can issue them. You will not be in any trouble by issuing it. If you do not issue it, you may be sued.”
Here’s the full interview with Hinds County Circuit Clerk Barbara Dunn:
Laurin Locke and Tiffany Brosh were the first ones to tie the knot at the Hinds County Courthouse.
“We’re so happy for ourselves, for everybody,” Locke said. “We’re so thankful. We feel blessed.”
They went to the courthouse this morning with the intention of waiting to see if anything would happen, but little did they know that it would be as soon as they walked in.
“We literally got off the elevator, and they said ‘oh hey you can get your licenses now,'” Brosh said. “So we ran in here, and finished the process.”
Brosh also said that it’s a big help from a financial standpoint.
“We’re now accepted in the entire nation,” Brosh added. “In the eyes of the law, especially. It’s really mostly legal. We can have tax breaks, we can file a mortgage together. It means a lot in that aspect.”
The two have yet to decide who will be taking who’s last name.
Listen below for the full interview with Tiffany Brosh and Laurin Locke:
For Cyndi Lott and Evelyn Horton, this day was especially special to them, for the sake of their five-year-old daughter, who will grow up knowing that her parents are justified by the United States of America.
“We get to be a part of something that’s much bigger than just her and I,” Lott said. “But also get to teach our daughter the same core values that we had to live through to get to this point.”
You can listen to the full interview with Cyndi and Evelyn here:
Here is the video of Cyndi Lott and Evelyn Horton, who now goes by Evelyn Lott, as they made their marriage official at the Hinds County Courthouse Monday morning.
The woman filling out the paperwork in the video is Bear Atwood, an attorney who was the officiant for Cyndi and Evelyn’s ceremony. She was honored to be a part of it.
“It’s amazing,” Atwood said. “Watching these two young women, who are just so thrilled to be able to participate in what everyone else takes for granted. Getting married, as all of us think about doing, as we grow up, being part of our society in Mississippi. It’s an honor for me to do the ceremony, but I’m just very glad for them.”
Here’s the full interview with Bear Atwood: