Any minute Mississippi will be in the national spotlight.
At issue are two pending Federal Court cases attempting to strike down the ban on Mississippi’s Constitutional restriction against same-sex marriage, and a state law prohibiting same-sex adoption. The arguments have been made and the matters are in the “bosom of the Court.”
The question that the Court is deciding is whether there is a “Rational Basis” for the State (Governmental entity) to restrict the rights of citizens eligible for marriage to one another.
The Rational Basis review tests whether a governmental action is a reasonable means to an end that may be legitimately pursued by the government. This test requires that the governmental action be “rationally related” to a “legitimate” government interest. Under this standard of review, the “legitimate interest” does not have to be the government’s actual interest. Rather, if the court can merely hypothesize a “legitimate” interest served by the challenged action, it will withstand the rational basis review.
During the arguments the Judge asked what is the State’s rational basis in preventing these persons from marrying and adopting. The State’s response was “responsible procreation.” Based on that response the Court’s ultimate task is to determine 1) is “responsible procreation” something the State has a legitimate interest in, and 2) are the State imposed restrictions rationally related to that goal.
A ruling should come swiftly and the early indications, based on the Judge’s questions and the reception of the arguments presented, are that Mississippi will be the next State to recognize and allow same-sex marriage.
Matthew Thompson is a Mississippi Family Law Attorney, Adjunct Professor of Law -Domestic Relations and is closely following these pending cases and the impact they will have on Mississippi Family Law.