I told Attorney General Marty Jackley last year that he would lose any effort to defend county employees who refuse to issue marriage licenses to LGBT couples. I repeatedly told the 2016 Legislature that passing bills to allow Kim Davis wannabes to discriminate on the job would not pass Constitutional muster.
This week, Judge Carlton Reeves of the Southern District of Mississippi says I’m right. Judge Reeves was asked by the Campaign for Southern Equality to review Mississippi’s 2016 House Bill 1523, a bill seeking to legalize discrimination under the guise of religious freedom. Judge Reeves found that the portion of HB 1523 that allows county clerks to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples violates the Constitution and the 2015 Obergefell ruling:
“The Supreme Court’s ruling will be enforced,” Reeves wrote in Monday’s ruling.
“Mississippi’s elected official may disagree with Obergefell, of course, and may express that disagreement as they see fit — by advocating for a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision, for example. But the marriage license issue will not be adjudicated anew after every legislative session,” the ruling says.
“And the judiciary will remain vigilant whenever a named party to an injunction is accused of circumventing that injunction, directly or indirectly.”
Mississippi was already been blocked from enforcing its ban on gay marriage but the order expands the so-called “recusal” provision of HB 1523.
“Clerks and their deputies are, after all, ‘public officials elected and paid by the county to serve the public and all of its citizens,'” Reeves wrote [Erik de la Garza, “Judge Blocks Mississippi Gay Marriage Recusal,” Courthouse News Service, 2016.06.28].
Mississippi’s unconstitutional HB 1523 reads very much like South Dakota’s failed 2016 House Bill 1107. The South Dakota House passed that unconstitutional measure 46–10 before Senate Judiciary stepped up and killed it. Rep. Al Novstrup voted for this violation of the Constitution; his son David acceded to the request of sponsor Rep. Scott Craig and voted to toss HB 1107 in committee.
Hmm… it would seem I understand the Constitution better than our Attorney General and the seven-term Legislator who wants to keep me out of Pierre. Judge Reeves’s ruling on Mississippi’s religious discrimination law suggests Pierre is right where I need to be to prevent the state from getting sucked into more bad laws and costly lawsuits.