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Mississippi Judge Strikes Down State Laws Banning Same-Sex Marriages

Paul, Weiss clients Becky Bickett, Andrea Sanders, Joce Pritchett, Carla Webb and the Campaign for Southern Equality won a significant victory when a federal court granted their motion for a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of Mississippi laws that banned gay and lesbian couples from marrying within the state of Mississippi and that refused to recognize valid same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

Judge Carlton W. Reeves of the United States District Court for the District of Mississippi found that by "depriving same-sex couples and their children of equal dignity under the law," Mississippi violated both the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, and that "the State of Mississippi cannot deny [gay couples] the marriage rights and responsibilities it holds out to opposite-sex couples and their children." "The Fourteenth Amendment operates to remove the blinders of inequality from our eyes," Reeves wrote. "Though we cherish our traditional values, they must give way to Constitutional wisdom. Mississippi's traditional beliefs about gay and lesbian citizens led it to defy that wisdom by taking away fundamental rights owed to every citizen. It is time to restore those rights."

Reeves issued a 14-day stay to allow the state to appeal his decision to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where arguments are currently scheduled to take place on January 9, 2015 with respect to similar laws in Texas and Louisiana.

The Paul, Weiss team included litigation partners Roberta Kaplan, Andrew Ehrlich and Jaren Janghorbani and associates Joshua Kaye, Warren Stramiello, Jacob Hupart, Michael Nadler, Alexia Koritz, Amy Beaux, Ryan Goldstein, Joshua Wesneski, Rebecca Matte and Asher Smith.

November 26, 2014

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