Marriage equality is pivotal in the advancements of rights for the LGBT community. In Mississippi, same-sex couples have been denied recognition of their union by the state despite a push across the nation to do so.
Tomorrow, Nov. 12, U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves will hear a complaint filed on behalf of two same-sex couples, Andrea Sanders and Rebecca Bickett, Jocelyn Pritchett and Carla Webb and Campaign for Southern Equality. The federal lawsuit challenges Mississippi's same-sex marriage ban, which prohibits same-sex couples from being married in the state, as well as prohibits out-of-state same-sex marriages to be recognized by the state.
Roberta Kaplan, lead counsel for the plaintiff and attorney in the case that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, filed a brief to the court on Nov. 10 in response to the answer filed by the defense on the same day.
In it, she said, "In seeking to defend the constitutionality of the Mississippi laws that exclude gay couples from civil marriage, Defendants do not offer a single argument that has not already been rejected—repeatedly—by federal courts across the country."
Courts have been split on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans across the country, but the Supreme Court's recent denial to hear appeals in cases where federal appellant courts found the ban unconstitutional effectively made marriage equality the law of the land in 32 states.
The plaintiffs are hoping Mississippi will keep the momentum going and make that 33. Kaplan's brief said that the state might argue same-sex marriage bans are constitutional under its wish to "exercise caution" or "wait and see" before "changing a norm ... accepted for centuries."
"Indulging an aversion to or fear of change at the expense of depriving individuals of constitutionally-guaranteed rights is not a legitimate governmental objective," Kaplan wrote.