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.
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
“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.”