LGBT rights in Mississippi

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LGBT rights in Mississippi
Mississippi (USA)
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 2003
Gender identity/expression Altering sex on birth certificate requires sex reassignment surgery
Discrimination protections None statewide
Family rights
Recognition of
Constitution limits marriage to one man/one woman (ruled unconstitutional)
Adoption Joint adoption illegal

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the U.S. state of Mississippi face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Same-sex sexual activity is legal in Mississippi. Same-sex couples and families headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for all the protections available to opposite-sex married couples.

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity has been legal in Mississippi since 2003, when the United States Supreme Court struck down all state sodomy laws with Lawrence v. Texas.[1]

Same-sex marriage in Mississippi[edit]

On August 24, 1996, Governor Kirk Fordice issued an executive order banning same-sex marriage in the state.[2] A statute banning same-sex marriage took effect on February 12, 1997.[3] On November 4, 2004, voters approved a constitutional amendment that defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman.[4]

On November 25, 2014, Carlton W. Reeves, district judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, ruled Mississippi's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, but stayed enforcement of his ruling until December 9.[5] On December 4, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay pending appeal.[6]

Adoption and parenting[edit]

Mississippi permits adoption by an unmarried adult without regard to sexual orientation. Couples of the same gender may not adopt jointly.[7]

Discrimination protection[edit]

Map of Mississippi counties and cities that have sexual orientation and/or gender identity anti–employment discrimination ordinances
  Sexual orientation and gender identity solely in public employment
  Does not protect sexual orientation and gender identity in employment

Mississippi law does not positively address discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.[8]

The city of Starkville prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in public employment only.[9]

On April 3, 2014, Governor Phil Bryant signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which passed the Mississippi legislature a day earlier.[10] The act protects religious people from legal repercussions if they verbally condemn the lifestyle or actions of LGBT persons. Additionally, the bill expands the definition of an individual to include businesses, and so if a business owner thinks their religious beliefs would be violated by delivering service to an LGBT person, the Act allows them to deny them service, a move that some have called "anti-gay segregation".[11] Instead of simply not protecting LGBT persons from discrimination, the Act actually protects those who could be accused of discriminating.

As an added provision, Governor Bryant also signed a student specific version of the Act (The Mississippi Student Religious Liberties Act) which protects the views of students in any educational institution from being reprimanded for their religious views. Under the bill, a school may not discipline a student for expressing anti-LGBT views either verbally or through written assignments.[12]

Local non-discrimination resolutions[edit]

The following cities have local inclusive non-discrimination resolutions:

On January 6, 2015, the Starkville city council voted 5-2 to repeal the equality resolution for sexual orientation and gender identity in the city.[20][21] On January 8, 2015, Mayor Parker Wiseman vetoed the bill.[22] On January 21, 2015, the Starkville city council voted 5-2 to override the mayor's veto and repeal the equality resolution.[23]

Hate crime laws[edit]

State law does not address hate crimes based on gender identity or sexual orientation.[24]


  1. ^ "Mississippi Sodomy Law". Retrieved December 5, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Mississippi Governor Bans Same-Sex Marriage". New York Times. August 24, 1996. Retrieved November 26, 2014. 
  3. ^ Senate Bill 2053
  4. ^ Roberts, Joel (November 2, 2004). "11 States Ban Same-Sex Marriage". CBS News. Associated Press. Retrieved November 26, 2014. 
  5. ^ Geidner, Chris (November 25, 2014). "Mississippi’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban Is Unconstitutional, Federal Judge Rules". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved November 25, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Order and Opinion: Stay pending appeal granted". Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Retrieved December 4, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Mississippi Adoption Law". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved May 15, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Mississippi Non-Discrimination Law". Human Rights Campaign. May 15, 2011. 
  9. ^ Employment
  10. ^ "Mississippi Legislature Passes Discriminatory Religious Freedom Bill". New Civil Rights Movement. Retrieved April 4, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Mississippi Passed Its Anti-Gay Segregation Bill". Slate. Retrieved April 4, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Mississippi Governor Has Now Signed Two Anti-Gay Religious Freedom Bills Into Law". New Civil Rights Movement. Retrieved April 4, 2014. 
  13. ^ Ferretti, Haley (June 3, 2014). "Jackson Passes Pro-LGBT Resolution | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS". Jackson Free Press. Retrieved June 29, 2014. 
  14. ^ [1][dead link]
  15. ^ Showers, Al. "Bay St. Louis passes measure supporting LGBT community". Retrieved June 29, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Fifth Mississippi City Council Passes Pro-LGBT Resolution | Human Rights Campaign". April 30, 2014. Retrieved June 29, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Magnolia, MS Passes Pro-LGBT Resolution | Human Rights Campaign". April 22, 2014. Retrieved June 29, 2014. 
  18. ^ Lowrey, Erin (March 4, 2014). "Oxford, MS unanimously passes Pro-LGBT resolution - WDAM.COM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports". Wdam.Com. Retrieved June 29, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Hattiesburg follows Starkville in passing diversity resolution". Yall Politics. February 19, 2014. Retrieved June 29, 2014. 
  20. ^ Starkville passes equality resolution supporting LGBT residents, others
  21. ^ Mississippi town rescinds health coverage for unmarried domestic partners
  22. ^ Starkville mayor vetoes board's repeal of equality resolution
  23. ^ Starkville, Mississippi Officials Override Mayor's Veto, Repeal Historic Gay-Rights Initiatives
  24. ^ "Mississippi Hate Crimes Law". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved May 15, 2011.