This Mississippi Judge Says Clerks Have to Issue Marriage Licenses to Same-Sex Couples, Regardless of Religion

This has been a typically dramatic week for politics, and an even more up-and-down week for the LGBTQ+ community of Mississippi. According to the Associated Press, recent measures have been taken to ensure marriage equality, but they haven't been unchallenged.


Judge Carlton Reeves of Mississippi ruled that clerks can no longer use their personal religious beliefs as an excuse to refuse a marriage license, and that every clerk must treat all types of marriage equally. Clerks would have been able to recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples under the original House Bill 1523, would was meant to become law on Friday. 

"A year after the Supreme Court guaranteed marriage equality in the Obergefell decision, we are delighted that Judge Reeves reaffirmed the power of federal courts to definitively say what the United States Constitution means," Roberta Kaplan, an attorney who represents the Campaign for Southern Equality, told the AP.

There is, however, backlash that this bill violates the first amendment right to practicing the freedom of religion. "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,"  Republican Lt. Governor Tate Reeves said to the AP.

There needs to be a compromise between freedom of religion and freedom of marriage without discrimination towards the other. Judge Reeves suggested that clerks who do not agree with same sex marriage express their disapproval by other means, such as "by advocating for a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision," as he wrote in his ruling. Basically, he's saying that people who claim their religion conflicts with the law should try to change the law—but they can't disobey it.