A federal judge on Wednesday heard arguments in a case challenging Mississippi's ban on gay marriage.

U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves grilled attorneys in the case for five hours.

The Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE) filed the lawsuit last month on behalf of Andrea Sanders and Rebecca Bickett, who wish to marry in Mississippi, and Jocelyn Pritchett and Carla Webb, who want their marriage celebrated in Maine to be recognized by Mississippi.

Arguing for the plaintiffs was Roberta Kaplan, who sounded upbeat after the hearing ended.

“Judge Reeves clearly was incredibly well prepared,” Kaplan told reporters. “His questions were all incredibly smart and relevant. He was engaged and motivated.”

Kaplan had good reasons to praise Reeves, who appeared skeptical of the state's arguments.

For example, in one exchange with Paul Barnes, a lawyer with the attorney general's office, Reeves questioned his assertion that “same-sex couples don't need marriage to assert their rights.”

“They can use other legal means like deeds and wills and advanced health-care directives,” Barnes said.

“But that costs money, and those are all steps that opposite-sex couples don't need to take,” Reeves pointed out.

“But they're viable options that allow them the same benefits available to married couples.”

“Then what's so unique about marriage to a state if everyone already has those rights?” Reeves asked.

A headline from The Clarion-Ledger concluded that Reeves “likely will overturn gay marriage ban.”