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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Alford v. Moulder PB-MS-0006
Docket / Court 3:16-cv-00350-DPJ-FKB ( S.D. Miss. )
State/Territory Mississippi
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Same-Sex Marriage
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
On May 9, 2016, the Mississippi chapter of the ACLU and two gay individuals who were engaged 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, alleging that the state’s Protecting Freedom of ... read more >
On May 9, 2016, the Mississippi chapter of the ACLU and two gay individuals who were engaged 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, alleging that the state’s Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, which allowed businesses to refuse to provide services based on their religious beliefs, violated 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 granted broad protections to private business owners and government officials who didn't want to provide services to same-sex married couples based on their sincerely held religious beliefs. Plaintiffs alleged that these protections would make it more difficult for same-sex married couples to get services than different-sex married couples, and thus imposed burdens on same-sex married couples not faced by different-sex married couples. The plaintiffs argued that these burdens violated 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. Judge Reeves noted that there must be a substantial threat of immediate, irreparable harm to the plaintiffs to justify a preliminary injunction. But in this case, Judge Reeves stated that the risk of injury was not imminent because the couple planned to marry in the next three years. (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).

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. For more information on these cases, see here in the Clearinghouse.

On October 17, 2016, Judge Reeves granted the defendant's motion for a stay. 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143292. On June 22, 2017, the Fifth Circuit held that the plaintiffs in Barber did not have standing. 860 F.3d 345. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case. The parties in this case then conferred and filed a Joint Stipulation of Dismissal without Prejudice on September 26, 2018, and the case is now closed.

Ryan Berry - 05/31/2016
Kelly Ehrenreich - 10/19/2016
Elizabeth Helpling - 11/18/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Sexual orientatation
General
Access to public accommodations - governmental
Access to public accommodations - privately owned
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Government Services (specify)
Marriage
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) State of Mississippi
Plaintiff Description A same-sex couple and the ACLU of Mississippi.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filing Year 2016
Case Closing Year 2018
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PB-MS-0004 : Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant (S.D. Miss.)
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
3:16-cv-00350-DPJ-FKB (S.D. Miss.)
PB-MS-0006-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/26/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PB-MS-0006-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/09/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
District Court Judge Order Denying Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 20] (2016 WL 3449911) (S.D. Miss.)
PB-MS-0006-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/20/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order to Stay Case [ECF# 30] (S.D. Miss.)
PB-MS-0006-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/17/2016
Joint Stipulation of Dismissal Without Prejudice [ECF# 37]
PB-MS-0006-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/26/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Reeves, Carlton Wayne (S.D. Miss.) show/hide docs
PB-MS-0006-0002 | PB-MS-0006-0003 | PB-MS-0006-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Block, Joshua A (New York) show/hide docs
PB-MS-0006-0004 | PB-MS-0006-9000
Cooper, Leslie (New York) show/hide docs
PB-MS-0006-0004 | PB-MS-0006-9000
Diaz, Oliver E Jr. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PB-MS-0006-0001 | PB-MS-0006-0004 | PB-MS-0006-9000
Tom, Joshua F. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PB-MS-0006-0004 | PB-MS-0006-9000
Wu, Paloma (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PB-MS-0006-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Miracle, Douglas T. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
PB-MS-0006-0004 | PB-MS-0006-9000

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