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Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the U.S. state of Mississippi face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Same-sex couples and families headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for all the protections available to opposite-sex married couples.
Law regarding same-sex sexual activity Edit
Recognition of same-sex relationships Edit
Mississippi does not permit the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The state forbids, both by statute and in its constitution, the recognition of same-sex marriages and other forms of same-sex partnership solemnized in other jurisdictions. The constitutional amendment defining marriage was approved in a voter referendum on November 4, 2004.
In 1978, a same-sex couple was refused a marriage license. In 1994, another same-sex couple in Ocean Springs, Mississippi applied for and was refused a marriage license.
Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant Edit
The Campaign for Southern Equality and two lesbian couples filed suit in federal district court on October 20, 2014, challenging Mississippi's statutory and constitutional denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples. Each of the couples is raising two children and one couple was previously married in Maine. Their principal attorney is Roberta Kaplan, who argued United States v. Windsor before the U.S. Supreme Court. They named as defendants in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant the governor and attorney general, and the Hinds County circuit clerk who denied a marriage license to one of the plaintiff couples. U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves held a hearing on motions for summary judgment on November 12. He ruled for the plaintiffs on November 25 and stayed his ruling for 14 days to allow the defendants to request a longer stay from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court.
Divorce of same-sex couples Edit
A lesbian couple, residents of Mississippi who wed in California in 2008, are asking the state to recognize their marriage in order to allow them to divorce. They have agreed on a division of their assets, but the Mississippi Attorney General's office has intervened in their divorce suit, Czekala-Chatham v. Melancon. Their lawyer contends that "There can be no legitimate state purpose in allowing bigamous or incestuous couples to divorce and not allowing the same remedy to same-sex couples". The DeSoto County Chancery Court dismissed their case for lack of jurisdiction. On appeal, the state Supreme Court has taken jurisdiction and allowed Governor Phil Bryant, represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, to intervene to support the state's position.
Adoption and parenting Edit
Mississippi permits adoption by an unmarried adult without regard to sexual orientation. Couples of the same gender may not adopt jointly.
Discrimination protection Edit
Mississippi law does not positively address discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
On April 3, 2014, Governor Phil Bryant signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which passed the Mississippi legislature a day earlier. The act protects religious people from legal repercussions if they verbally condemn the lifestyle or actions of LGBT persons. Additionally, the bill expands the definition of an individual to include businesses, and so if a business owner thinks their religious beliefs would be violated by delivering service to an LGBT person, the Act allows them to deny them service, a move that some have called "anti-gay segregation". Instead of simply not protecting LGBT persons from discrimination, the Act actually protects those who could be accused of discriminating.
As an added provision, Governor Bryant also signed a student specific version of the Act (The Mississippi Student Religious Liberties Act) which protects the views of students in any educational institution from being reprimanded for their religious views. Under the bill, a school may not discipline a student for expressing anti-LGBT views either verbally or through written assignments.
Local non-discrimination resolutions Edit
The following cities have local inclusive non-discrimination resolutions:
- Jackson, MS on June 3, 2014 
- Waveland, MS on May 21, 2014 
- Bay St. Louis, MS on May 6, 2014 
- Greenville, MS on April 29, 2014
- Magnolia, MS on April 22, 2014 
- Oxford, MS on March 4, 2014 
- Hattiesburg, MS on February 18, 2014 
- Starkville, MS on January 21, 2014 
Hate crime laws Edit
State law does not address hate crimes based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
Public opinion Edit
A November 2011 Public Policy Polling survey found that only 13% of Mississippi voters supported the legalization of same-sex marriage, while 78% were opposed and 9% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 38% of respondents supported legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 10% supporting same-sex marriage and 28% supporting civil unions, 60% opposed all legal recognition, and 2% were not sure, making Mississippi one of the most dissenting states in the country on the issue.
A July 2013 Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Target Point Consulting poll found that 36% of Mississippians support same-sex marriage, while 55% oppose. Among respondents below the age of 30, support is at 58%. That same study found that 61% of MS residents favored state legislation that protects gay and transgender people from employment discrimination, as contrasted against 30% who opposed such legislation.
A November 2013 Public Policy Polling survey found that only 22% of Mississippi voters supported the legalization of same-sex marriage, while 69% were opposed and 9% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 49% of respondents supported legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 21% supporting same-sex marriage and 28% supporting civil unions, 45% opposed all legal recognition, and 6% were not sure
- ↑ Mississippi Sodomy Law. Hrc.org. Retrieved on December 5, 2013.
- ↑ Mississippi Marriage/Relationship Recognition Law. Hrc.org (March 12, 2007). Retrieved on December 5, 2013.
- ↑ Ballot Measures. CNN. Retrieved on May 15, 2011.
- ↑ Legal Marriage Court Cases. Buddybuddy.com. Retrieved on June 29, 2014.
- ↑ "Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief", U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, October 20, 2014. Retrieved on October 20, 2014.
- ↑ "Roberta Kaplan representing plaintiffs in Miss. marriage lawsuit", Washington Blade, October 20, 2014. Retrieved on October 20, 2014.
- ↑ "Hearing held in lawsuit challenging Mississippi's ban on gay marriage", WAPT, November 12, 2014. Retrieved on November 12, 2014.
- ↑ "Federal judge rules Mississippi same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional", Metro Weekly, November 25, 2014. Retrieved on November 25, 2014.
- ↑ "Some states see fight for right to same-sex divorce", December 1, 2013. Retrieved on January 18, 2014.
- ↑ Maxey, Ron. "Judge rejects Mississippi woman's divorce request in same-sex marriage", December 2, 2013. Retrieved on January 18, 2014.
- ↑ Baume, Matt. "Southern Governor Fights Same-Sex Marriage — And Lesbian Divorce", The Advocate, September 19, 2014. Retrieved on September 23, 2014.
- ↑ Mississippi Adoption Law. Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved on May 15, 2011.
- ↑ Mississippi Non-Discrimination Law. Human Rights Campaign (May 15, 2011).
- ↑ Mississippi Legislature Passes Discriminatory Religious Freedom Bill. New Civil Rights Movement. Retrieved on April 4, 2014.
- ↑ Mississippi Passed Its Anti-Gay Segregation Bill. Slate. Retrieved on April 4, 2014.
- ↑ Mississippi Governor Has Now Signed Two Anti-Gay Religious Freedom Bills Into Law. New Civil Rights Movement. Retrieved on April 4, 2014.
- ↑ Ferretti, Haley (June 3, 2014). Jackson Passes Pro-LGBT Resolution | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS. Jackson Free Press. Retrieved on June 29, 2014.
- ↑ 
- ↑ Showers, Al. Bay St. Louis passes measure supporting LGBT community. WJHL.com. Retrieved on June 29, 2014.
- ↑ Fifth Mississippi City Council Passes Pro-LGBT Resolution | Human Rights Campaign. Hrc.org (April 30, 2014). Retrieved on June 29, 2014.
- ↑ Magnolia, MS Passes Pro-LGBT Resolution | Human Rights Campaign. Hrc.org (April 22, 2014). Retrieved on June 29, 2014.
- ↑ Lowrey, Erin (March 4, 2014). Oxford, MS unanimously passes Pro-LGBT resolution - WDAM.COM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports. Wdam.Com. Retrieved on June 29, 2014.
- ↑ Hattiesburg follows Starkville in passing diversity resolution. Yall Politics (February 19, 2014). Retrieved on June 29, 2014.
- ↑ Johnson, Renee. "Starkville passes equality resolution supporting LGBT residents", WLOX.com. Retrieved on June 29, 2014.
- ↑ Mississippi Hate Crimes Law. Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved on May 15, 2011.
- ↑ Mississippi Voters on a Variety of Topics (PDF). Retrieved on December 5, 2013.
- ↑ Progress in Mississippi (PDF). Retrieved on December 5, 2013.
- ↑ Mississippi Miscellany (PDF). Retrieved on June 29, 2014.
- The county where no one's gay
- U.S. District Court, Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant, November 25, 2014
Same-sex unions in the United States
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