Same-sex marriage is another step closer to becoming the law of the land across all of Mississippi. Attorney General Jim Hood has sent a letter to circuit clerks giving them the option to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.
"By the power vested in me by God and the mighty state of Mississippi, I now pronounce you husband and husband. . ."
Three days after their first attempt at getting a marriage license in Mississippi, Knol Aust and Duane Smith were married on the steps of the Hinds County Courthouse. They say the past few days have been a whirlwind.
"Emotionally, I'm not sure we're on the ground yet," says Aust. "I don't know if it's really sank in. Where we are. What we're doing."
"I can't wait to get home and take it in and go from there," Smith says.
Dozens of other same-sex couples were also married across Mississippi yesterday. However, officials in Desoto, Jackson and Jones counties did not issue licenses to same-sex couples.
That's because the letter sent by Attorney General Jim Hood gave circuit clerks a choice. They could start issuing marriage certificates with no legal repercussions or they could face potential lawsuits from people trying to apply. They also had to consider whether a legal stay on same-sex marriages in Mississippi prevented them from issuing the licenses.
Hood says the state is awaiting word from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
"The 5th Circuit hasn't yet ruled and therefore it may be an invalid marriage," Hood says. "That's a long shot. I don't think a judge would do that, but we're just advising the clerks that if you wait until the 5th Circuit rules then it will be an ironclad certificate."
Hood says he hopes to hear from the appellate court by the end of the week.