On May 9, 2016, the Mississippi chapter of the ACLU and two gay individuals contemplating marriage filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. The plaintiffs sued the state of Mississippi under 42 U.S.C §1983 and the due process and equal protection ...
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On May 9, 2016, the Mississippi chapter of the ACLU and two gay individuals contemplating marriage filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. The plaintiffs sued the state of Mississippi under 42 U.S.C §1983 and the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. Represented by private counsel, the plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, including a preliminary injunction to prevent the law from taking effect on July 1, 2016, along with attorneys' fees.
The plaintiffs challenged Mississippi House Bill 1523, the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act (HB 1523). HB 1523 was passed in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges; it grants broad protections to private business owners and government officials who don’t want to provide services to same-sex married couples based on their sincerely held religious beliefs. Plaintiffs alleged that these protections make it more difficult for same-sex married couples to get services than different-sex married couples, and thus impose burdens on same-sex married couples not faced by different-sex married couples. The plaintiffs argued that these burdens violate the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, which—consistent with Obergefell—require that states allow same-sex couples access to civil marriage on the same terms and conditions as different-sex couples.
On June 20, U.S. District Court Judge Carlton W. Reeves denied the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction against H.B. 1523, stating that for the extraordinary remedy of preliminary injunction, there must be a substantial threat of immediate, irreparable harm to the plaintiffs if the injunction weren't in effect. Because the couple declared they planned to marry in the next three years, Judge Reeves stated, their risk of injury was not imminent. (2016 WL 3449911).
However, ten days later, on June 30, 2016 Judge Reeves granted a preliminary injunction of H.B. 1523 in another suit, Barber v. Bryant (2016 WL 3562647) which benefits these plaintiffs as well.
On August 8, 2016, the defendant filed a motion to request a stay in this case until the resolution of Barber v. Bryant and Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant, two cases (which were consolidated) in the Southern District of Mississippi also challenging H.B. 1523.
On October 17, 2016, Judge Reeves granted the defendant's motion for a stay. Outcome of this case will be pending the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit's ruling in the Barber case.Ryan Berry - 05/31/2016
Kelly Ehrenreich - 10/19/2016