On Tuesday, Nov. 25, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves ruled in favor of a preliminary injunction halting Mississippi same-sex marriage ban, but with a catch. The injunction was stayed for 14 days, giving the state time to appeal. Sure enough, the very next day Attorney General Jim Hood had already taken steps to appeal Reeves’ ruling. Until a decision is met in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, same-sex unions will not be allowed in Mississippi.
Millsaps junior Callie Rush, an intern with Human Rights Campaign Mississippi, is hopeful, though. “When the fifth circuit appeals court meets in January to make a ruling for all of the states under its jurisdiction—Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana—the decision will be a blanket ruling for all of the states. In the majority of the other federal appeals courts across the nation who have made decisions regarding marriage equality, all of the decisions have overturned same-sex marriage bans,” Rush says. “I am not familiar with the opinions or reputations of the 5th Circuit judges who will be hearing these cases in January, but I can only hope that they will follow the lead of many other federal courts across the nation by overturning the marriage bans within their circuit.”
Junior psychology major Zane Ballard shares a similar opinion, and believes that the overturn of the marriage ban could mean positive growth for the state of Mississippi. “Same-sex marriage could normalize LGB people’s lives in the eyes of heterosexual Mississippians,” Ballard says. “A move towards marriage equality could also act as a foot in the door, paving the way for other advances in rights for LGBT individuals.”
As the story progresses, and the 5th Circuit Court comes to a conclusion, it is important to keep in mind that while the overturn of the same-sex marriage ban could mean a lot of positives for Mississippi and the surrounding states, there is always a flip side of the coin. It is crucial when discussing progress to avoid getting caught up in the victories and overlooking the work still to do..
As Ballard says, “No matter how people talk about it, there are still myriad issues that must be addressed if LGBT individuals are to improve their quality of life in this country. Rates of health problems, mental illness, suicide (including youth suicide), discrimination in the workplace and in the regular world, youth homelessness, and so many other concerns still pose a serious threat to the lives and happiness of LGBT folks here.”
Rush, though hopeful that the marriage ban will be overturned, acknowledges that many additional issues still need to be addressed.
“Although an official overturn by the appeals court will be a very important positive achievement for the LGBTQ community, there is still a need for protecting LGBTQ Mississippians in schools, workplaces, churches, etc. Judge Reeves’ overturn, no matter the appeals court’s decision, is one step in the right direction for Mississippi, but there is still much work to be done.”