A federal judge today struck down Mississippi’s ban on same-sex marriage but put his decision on hold for 14 days, meaning gay and lesbian couples can’t marry yet and giving the state time to appeal.
“Mississippi continues to change in ways its people could not anticipate even 10 years ago,” U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves wrote in his ruling, ordering the state to cease enforcing the ban. “Allowing same-sex couples to marry, however, presents no harm to anyone. At the very least, it has the potential to support families and provide stability for children.”
The state is “widely expected” to ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to block Reeves’s order immediately and also to appeal his decision to that court, reports The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss.
The Campaign for Southern Equality brought the suit in October on behalf of two same-sex couples, and Roberta Kaplan is lead counsel in the case. Kaplan is the attorney who handled lesbian widow Edie Windsor’s case against the federal Defense of Marriage Act and scored a victory in the Supreme Court last year. She and an attorney for the state argued the Mississippi case November 12.
“We’re thrilled that Judge Reeves understood and appreciated and took such great care and time to explain why gay people have the same rights under the Constitution as everyone else,” Kaplan told The Clarion-Ledger. His decision, she said, “is going to stand as truly as a landmark opinion in this area.”
She will be ready to argue in the appellate court, she added. “We will win this one in the Fifth Circuit too,” she told the paper.
In January the Fifth Circuit will hear appeals in marriage cases from Texas and Louisiana. In Texas the district court’s decision was for marriage equality; in Louisiana, against.
The Mississippi ruling comes the same day that another federal judge struck down a marriage ban in a neighboring Southern state, Arkansas. That decision is likely to be appealed in its federal circuit, the Eighth.