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Case Challenging Mississippi's Gay Marriage Ban Fast-Tracked

Mississippi

Earlier this week we reported that attorney Roberta Kaplan, who represented Edie Windsor in the case that struck down DOMA, had filed a challenge to Mississippi's gay marriage ban on behalf of two gay couples.

That challenge has been put on a fast track by U.S. District Court Judge Carlton W. Reeves, who has set a hearing in the case, Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant, for November 12 at 9 am.

Said Kaplan, via press release:

“By setting the schedule that it did, the Court clearly appreciated the need for expedition on issues of such great constitutional and practical import. We look forward to presenting our arguments to Judge Reeves on November 12. We are confident that, having read the briefs and heard our arguments, the Court will grant the relief that our clients seek – namely, the right to be treated like all other Mississippi families who love and care for each other, pay their taxes, and do their best to raise their kids."

Plaintiffs are also represented by Mississippi attorney Robert McDuff of McDuff & Byrd, based in Jackson, Mississippi.


Windsor Lawyer Files Lawsuit Challenging Mississippi's Gay Marriage Ban

Joce and Carla

Roberta Kaplan, who served as lead counsel in the landmark United States v. Windsor decision last year, has filed a federal challenge to Mississippi's ban on same-sex marriage on behalf of two gay couples. 

Said Kaplan:

Kaplan“As the lawyers who represented Edie Windsor, we are so honored to be able to file this case today on behalf of Rebecca Bickett, Andrea Sanders, Jocelyn Pritchett, Carla Webb, and the Campaign for Southern Equality. The Supreme Court took a gigantic step forward last year in Windsor, and since then, dozens of courts around the country have followed suit so that today, gay people in thirty-two states have the right to marry. It is now time to take the next big step by making sure that gay families in Mississippi are accorded these same protections.  The Supreme Court has made it clear that no matter where a gay person lives —whether it is in Maine, Minnesota, or Mississippi—our Constitution requires that they be treated with the same dignity and respect under the law as everyone else.”

Mississippi remains one of only a handful of states that has not yet had its gay marriage ban overturned by either a federal or circuit court. 

Read the lawsuit below:


American Family Association Targets Married Mississippi Trans Man for 'Biological Fraud'

FulghamNick and Jessica Elliott Fulgham are at the center of the American Family Association's latest media offense against marriage equality because of the couple’s personal history. Nick, a trans man, is legally registered as being biologically male within Mississippi, where he married his wife late last month. Nick’s birth certificate, the AFA contends, invalidates the marriage given that same-sex marriage is not yet legal in Mississippi.

Bryan Fischer, a vocal spokesperson for the AFA and host of one of its online programs, took to his platform to publicize private information about the Fulghams in an effort to draw more unwanted attention to their personal lives.

"Two lesbians getting married could not possibly be more illegal and unconstitutional anywhere in the United States than in Mississippi," the organization said in an inflammatory statement on its website.

"Nick and I love and stand behind each other and will do whatever we have to so that we ensure our rights and prove we did everything legally," Jessica told local news station WSFA."We aren't second-class citizens; we are people just like everyone else."

Despite the AFA’s vitriolic campaign against them, the married couple has found acceptance and support within their local community. Together, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Rainbow Center and the Dandelion Project are holding a joint potluck reception to honor the couple’s nuptials.


Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant Intervenes In Same-Sex Divorce Case

6a00d8341c730253ef01a73d9f9dfa970d-200wiMississippi Governor Phil Bryant (R) is opposing an appeal from a lesbian woman who is asking the state’s supreme court to recognize her gay marriage performed out of state so the state may subsequently grant a divorce. Bryant is being represented by the Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom. The Clarion-Ledger reports:

The high court said Monday that it would hear the case instead of assigning it to the Court of Appeals. Tuesday, justices approved Bryant's motion to intervene. It's unclear if the court will hear oral arguments or when it might rule.

In 2013, DeSoto County Chancery Judge Mitchell Lundy Jr. ruled that the Mississippi Constitution and statutes prevented him from granting a divorce to Lauren Czekala-Chatham and Dana Ann Melancon.

The women married in San Francisco in 2008 and bought a house in Mississippi before separating in 2010. They could divorce in California, but Czekala-Chatham says she shouldn't be treated differently than straight couples. 

Just last month, the campaign for Southern Equality urged same-sex couples in Mississippi to petition their local government offices to recognize their out-of-state unions, and at least one Mississippi couple was successful. It is unclear how that might affect the court’s ruling if at all.

Wesley Hisaw, Czekala-Chatham's lawyer, did mention that the U.S. Supreme Court may have an impact on this lower court decision. You’ll recall, SCOTUS will review five same-sex marriage cases behind closed doors on September 29.


24,000 Transgender People May Be Ineligible To Vote In November Due to Voter ID- VIDEO

Voting laws transgender people

Strict voter ID laws in ten states could create barriers to voting and lead to possible disenfranchisement for more than 24,000 transgender voters this November, reports LGBTQ Nation.

MapAccording to the study “The Potential Impact of Voter Identification Laws on Transgender Voters in the 2014 General Election,” about 84,000 transgender people across the ten strict photo ID states are estimated to be eligible to vote. The 24,000 transgender voters who may face barriers to voting reside in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

In order for these 24,000 voting-eligible transgender people to obtain the updated photo IDs required to vote in the November 2014 general election, they must comply with the requirements for updating their state-issued or federally-issued IDs.

The study’s author Jody L. Herman, Ph.D, said:

“Some voters may not have the means or the ability to present the required voter identification for a variety of reasons, such as poverty, disability, or religious objection.

Transgender people have unique barriers to obtaining accurate IDs needed to vote.

As these ten states begin planning for their fall elections, educating poll workers is crucial in order to ensure that transgender voters in their states have fair access to the ballot.”

Watch the 2012 National Center for Transgender Equality's "Voting While Trans" campaign video, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "24,000 Transgender People May Be Ineligible To Vote In November Due to Voter ID- VIDEO" »


Starkville, Mississippi Becomes First City in the State to Extend LGBT Domestic Partner Benefits

WisemanStarkville, Mississippi mayor Parker Wiseman has announced that his city will begin offering domestic partner benefits for its LGBT city employees - a first for the state.

The Clarion-Ledger reports:

The measure was approved by the Starkville Board of Aldermen unanimously.

The benefits include medical, according to the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBT advocacy group.

"Loving LGBT couples should have equal access to medical care, and we applaud the Mayor and the Board of Aldermen for their leadership on this critical issue," said HRC Mississippi Director Rob Hill.

WTVA adds that Wiseman also annoucned plans to appoint two LGBT liaisons to support the needs of the LGBT community. 

Back in January, Starkville became the first city in Mississippi to officially recogize the digningty of its LGBT citizens. 


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