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State Asks Appeals Court For Delay In Same-Sex Marriage

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A courtroom in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals

Mississippi is asking the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to delay the legalization of same-sex marriage in Mississippi until it decides on similar cases in Louisiana and Texas. This follows a judge's ruling last week overturning the state's ban against gay marriage. 

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Mississippi would have to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on December 10th under the ruling last week. In a filing, the state said that could put it in the thorny position of having to legally unwind marriages and family relationships if its position against gay marriage is upheld by the appeals court.

"Hopefully they will go on and decide within the two-week period to grant the stay so that there is not that confusion," says Attorney General Jim Hood. "And then we'll hear oral arguments in January on the Louisiana and Texas cases, and then the Fifth Circuit will decide one way or another, and that will decide our case as well."

But Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, one of the plaintiffs, argues Mississippi should begin granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples as soon as possible.

"Every day that couples like Andrea and Becky, who are plaintiffs in this case, are denied the basic, fundamental right to marry they're harmed because they're living with discrimination," she says. "So there is a real, immediate urgency to why, as a loving committed couple, they need the right to marry as quickly as possible."

The Campaign for Southern Equality has also filed a motion asking that the appeal be expedited and heard by the same appeals panel, at the same time, as the cases from Louisiana and Texas.