The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on
Thursday stayed a ruling striking down Mississippi's ban on gay
marriage that was set to take effect next week.
Last week, U.S. District Judge Carlton
Reeves struck down Mississippi's ban, saying that the 2004 amendment
to the Mississippi Constitution violates the Fourteenth Amendment of
the U.S. Constitution.
Without the intervention of the Fifth
Circuit, Reeves' temporary stay was set to expire on December 9.
While that's a win for the state, the
court also agreed to expedite the case and assigned it to the same
3-judge panel set to consider similar challenges to bans in Texas and
Louisiana next month. The hearing
comes nearly 11 months after a federal judge declared Texas' ban
Gov. Phil Bryant opposes gay marriage ruling; says it's “a
Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE) filed its lawsuit
challenging Mississippi's ban in October 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.
Lead counsel for the plaintiffs is
Roberta Kaplan, who also led the legal team in the landmark Supreme
Court Windsor decision that struck down a critical provision
of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) last year. Windsor has
played a significant role in cases challenging state marriage bans.
“Our clients and
other gay couples throughout Mississippi are of course disappointed
that the Fifth Circuit extended the stay of Judge Reeves' ruling,”
Kaplan said in a statement. “However, we are confident that the
Fifth Circuit will affirm Judge Reeves' opinion so that marriages can
begin in Mississippi as soon as possible.”