Tag Archives: marriage license

Mississippi in the Spotlight; HB1523, Standing, and You.

HB1523 is the little engine that could. A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the Plaintiffs in the underlying matter did not have standing to pursue their case. The Court basically said those complaining had not been harmed.

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A brief reminder, HB1523 was aimed to prevent “government from interfering with people of faith who are exercising their religious beliefs …in matters of marriage.” Phil Bryant. The Governor said it would not allow the discrimination of anyone.

The debate essentially centers around two “competing” interests. Those in favor of the law – contend a small business owner, hardworking, toiling and of strong Christian conviction should not lose their business and livelihood due to getting sued for not baking a cake for a gay wedding. Those opposed to the law – state that this law affords no protections to a class in need of protection.

Interestingly, prior to this law, during its litigation and even to date, there has not been a reported instance of a small business in the State of Mississippi being sued or facing any consequences for refusing service to same-sex persons prior to this law. The Oregon case where a baker had a money judgment entered against him was due to the admitted violation of an Oregon State law and aggravating factors, including that  the baker published the Complaintant’s name, home address and personal phone number on FaceBook. The money damages were for violating Oregon State law and the emotional distress that accompanied the intended private complaint being publicly posted.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits the federal government from making a law “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This provision applies to state and local governments through the Fourteenth Amendment.

The problem I see is that this law demands the respecting of an establishment of religion. It specifically allows state employees to discriminate against other citizens based upon a “sincerely held religious belief” or “moral conviction.” This means that the State employee whose job is to issue marriage licenses can refuse because they do not approve of you and/or your soon-to-be spouse.

The intent was to prevent same-sex marriage, but it could also prevent persons who were previously divorced from being married, persons pregnant out-of-wedlock who seek to be married, those that have had a child out of wedlock, and those having sex out of wedlock from getting married. These facts, by the way, are not an interpretation. The law provides for protection of these beliefs.

However, the plaintiffs complaining could not show that they had actually been harmed or discriminated against because of the law. Due to this, the 5th Circuit determined that they did not have the right to sue the State as they could show no harm. Case dismissed.

So, what’s next? This ruling will be appealed to the full panel before the 5th Circuit and in the meantime additional suits will be filed with aggrieved plaintiffs, I predict. However, is a law really a law if it doesn’t matter? Maybe all who seek will get their marriage licenses and all who desire a cake will get their cake and eat it too. Maybe Mississippi is better than our politicians deserve.

Matthew Thompson is a Divorce Attorney encouraging you to believe in your beliefs, but follow the law.

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Mississippi; Legislating Morality in the Face of the Law

The Mississippi legislature  has been called “backwards” and compared to hissing possums.

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Unfortunately, Mississippi will again bear the brunt of ridicule. House Bill 1523, if signed into law, allows state employees, and other entities, to discriminate against other citizens based upon a “sincerely held religious belief” or “moral conviction.” This means that a State employee whose job is to issue marriage licenses, for instance, can refuse because they do not approve of your spouse.

The intent is to prevent persons from entering into a same-sex marriage in the Hospitality State. Incidentally, the United States Supreme Court found that marriage is a fundamental right under the Constitution. This bill, which seeks to infringe on that RIGHT also goes much further.  

If the State Employee does not want to issue you a license they can refuse for a same-sex marriage, can refuse if you were previously divorced, can refuse if you had sex out of wedlock, and I am sure there are other Leviticus-based  refusals.

This bill is simply pandering. It affords no real protections to any class in need of protection. It allows discrimination under the guise of faith. A faith which requires that we love our neighbor as ourselves, and teaches us that the one without sin may cast the first stone. It is an affront to the law.

This bill, if passes, guarantees the State will be sued and Mississippi will spend tens of thousands of dollars defending an indefensible position, to protect a class not in need of protection, to solve a problem that does not exist.

This is another example of Mississippi striving to fulfill her stereotypical destiny.

You can read the Bill here.

Matthew Thompson is an Adjunct Professor at MC Law and a Divorce Attorney encouraging you to believe in your beliefs, but follow the law.

Follow the blog: BowTieLawyer Visit the websiteThompson Law Firm  You may also contact Matthew with your family law case, question or concern at 

(601) 850-8000  or Matthew@bowtielawyer.ms

Getting UnMarried Without a Divorce (Death is NOT the Only Way Out)

There are ways to end a “Marriage” other than divorce, and no, I am not talking about death…

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I have previously blogged on Annulment and the very limited circumstances that one may be requested.  However, I recently had another Annulment scenario arise that is worth mentioning.

Mississippi has specific licensing requirements to get married.  You have to have a licensed issued, you have to have a ceremony and cohabit.  The license is issued by the Clerk, the Ceremony is the thing you have at the beach, or the church, or the Court House and Cohabiting is living together.

But, what happens when there is a failure of one of the (3) requirements?

Typographical errors in the license do not invalidate a marriage when the marriage is consummated and you are living together.  Failure to comply with licensure requirements and NOT living together does not a marriage make. This situation would result in an Annulment.

But, what if there was no ceremony? 

Failure to have a Ceremony is fatal.  It does not matter if the license was issued. It doe not matter if you shacked up.  If you did NOT have a ceremony; at the beach, church, Court House, or backyard, if you did not jump the broomstick, you are not married.  A Ceremony, of some type, is required.

So, want your marriage to Count- get a license, have a ceremony and live as husband and wife.

Matthew Thompson is a Divorce/Annulment Lawyer in Mississippi and reminds you to act fast if you are seeking an Annulment.

Follow the blog: BowTieLawyer Visit the website: Thompson Law Firm

You may also contact Matthew with your family law case, question or concern at 

(601) 850-8000 or Matthew@bowtielawyer.ms.

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