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Conservative Review - Same-sex marriage in limbo in several states after Supreme Court ruling
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THE CONSERVATIVE REVIEW - June 30, 2015
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*-- Same-sex marriage in limbo in several states after Supreme Court ruling --*
WASHINGTON (UPI) - Even after the Supreme Court ruling that extends marriage laws to same-sex couples nationwide, some are being forced to wait to tie the knot, opening the door to a protracted court battle.
Government officials in at least five states, three in the historically conservative deep South, have voiced concerns over the high court's 5-4 ruling legalizing gay marriage, some going as far as refusing to observe the newly minted constitutional right. Officials in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Utah and Tennessee have announced they will be delaying enforcement or will be drafting legislation that exempts the state from following the ruling.
"For the most part, it's called the Bible Belt for a reason," said Ed Vitagliano, executive vice president of the Tupelo, Miss.-based American Family Association. "I'm sure Mississippi is no more spiritual than many other states. But they have been used to seeing the world through the lens of their Christian faith."
Gov. Phil Bryant said the federal court decision undermines the state's rights and is "out of step with the wishes of many in the United States and that are certainly out of step with the majority of Mississippians."
Attorney General Jim Hood initially said the Supreme Court's decision "is not effective immediately in Mississippi." In a later statement, Hood said,"The Office of the Attorney General is certainly not standing in the way of the Supreme Court's decision. We simply want to inform our citizens of the procedure that takes effect after this ruling. The Supreme Court decision is the law of the land and we do not dispute that. When the 5th Circuit lifts the stay of Judge Reeves' order, it will become effective in Mississippi and circuit clerks will be required to issue same-sex marriage licenses."
State lawmakers called the ruling a threat to "religious liberties" and are considering opting out of state-sanctioned marriage licenses altogether.
Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said he was "extremely disappointed" in the decision and said his office "has found nothing in (the) decision that makes the Court's order effective immediately."
"Therefore, there is not yet a legal requirement for officials to issue marriage licenses or perform marriages for same-sex couples in Louisiana. The Attorney General's Office will be watching for the court to issue a mandate or order making (the) decision final and effective and will issue a statement when that occurs."
At the same time, the Louisiana Clerks of Court Association advised parish and city clerks to hold off on issuing same-sex marriage licenses until after the 25-day appeal period of the Supreme Court ruling.
Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Roy Moore said he will resist the ruling, sharing a Facebook post from his wife, Kayla Moore, the head of The Foundation for Moral Law.
"Not only does the U.S. Supreme Court have no legal authority to redefine marriage, but also at least two members of the court's majority opinion were under a legal duty to recuse and refrain from voting. Their failure to recuse calls into question the validity of this decision," the Facebook statement said.
Lawmakers have drafted legislation that would end the state's issuance of marriage licenses, Fox13 reported. The language of the bill and its sponsor are being kept secret because the bill has been declared "protected" in the Utah State Legislature, but some lawmakers acknowledge the bill is being considered. It is not known if it will be unveiled before the 2016 legislative session.
Gov. Bill Haslam and Attorney General Herbert Slattery announced that they would not try to stop clerks from issuing marriage licenses, but two state legislators are drafting a "Tennessee Pastor Protection Act." It is aimed at protecting "all religious clergy from performing same sex marriages, as well as, providing legal protection from being forced to perform same sex marriages on church property."
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