LGBT rights in Mississippi
|LGBT rights in Mississippi|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal?||Legal since 2003|
|Gender identity/expression||Altering sex on birth certificate requires sex reassignment surgery|
|Constitution limits marriage to one man/one woman|
|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
Recognition of same-sex relationships
Mississippi does not permit the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The state forbids, both by statute and in its constitution, the recognition of same-sex marriages and other forms of same-sex partnership solemnized in other jurisdictions. The constitutional amendment defining marriage was approved in a voter referendum on November 4, 2004.
Divorce of same-sex couples
A lesbian couple, residents of Mississippi who wed in California in 2008, are asking the state to recognize their marriage in order to allow them to divorce. They have agreed on a division of their assets, but the Mississippi Attorney General's office has intervened in their divorce suit, Czekala-Chatham v. Melancon. The women's lawyer contends that "There can be no legitimate state purpose in allowing bigamous or incestuous couples to divorce and not allowing the same remedy to same-sex couples". They are appealing the dismissal of their case by DeSoto County Chancery Court where the judge said: "I don't like not being able to grant relief, but I have to have jurisdiction."
Adoption and parenting
Mississippi permits adoption by an unmarried adult without regard to sexual orientation. Couples of the same gender may not adopt jointly.
Mississippi law does not positively address discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
On April 3rd 2014, Governor Phil Bryant signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which passed the Mississippi legislature a day earlier. 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". 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.
Hate crime laws
State law does not address hate crimes based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
A November 2011 Public Policy Polling survey found that only 13% of Mississippi voters supported the legalization of same-sex marriage, while 78% were opposed and 9% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 38% of respondents supported legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 10% supporting same-sex marriage and 28% supporting civil unions, 60% opposed all legal recognition, and 2% were not sure, making Mississippi one of the most dissenting states in the country on the issue.
A July 2013 Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Target Point Consulting poll found that 36% of Mississippians support same-sex marriage, while 55% oppose. Among respondents below the age of 30, support is at 58%. That same study found that 61% of MS residents favored state legislation that protects gay and transgender people from employment discrimination, as contrasted against 30% who opposed such legislation.
A November 2013 Public Policy Polling survey found that only 22% of Mississippi voters supported the legalization of same-sex marriage, while 69% were opposed and 9% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 49% of respondents supported legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 21% supporting same-sex marriage and 28% supporting civil unions, 45% opposed all legal recognition, and 6% were not sure
- "Mississippi Sodomy Law". Hrc.org. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
- "Mississippi Marriage/Relationship Recognition Law". Hrc.org. 2007-03-12. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
- CNN: Ballot Measures, accessed May 15, 2011
- Legal Marriage Court Cases
- "Some states see fight for right to same-sex divorce". Fox News. December 1, 2013. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
- Maxey, Ron (December 2, 2013). "Judge rejects Mississippi woman's divorce request in same-sex marriage". The Commercial Appeal (Memphis). Retrieved January 18, 2014.
- Human Rights Campaign: Mississippi Adoption Law, accessed May 15, 2011
- Human Rights Campaign: Mississippi Non-Discrimination Law, accessed May 15, 2011
- New Civil Rights Movement: Mississippi Legislature Passes Discriminatory Religious Freedom Bill, accessed April 4, 2014
- Slate: Mississippi Passed Its Anti-Gay Segregation Bill, accessed April 4, 2014
- New Civil Rights Movement: Mississippi Governor Has Now Signed Two Anti-Gay Religious Freedom Bills Into Law, accessed April 4, 2014
- Human Rights Campaign: Mississippi Hate Crimes Law, accessed May 15, 2011
- "Mississippi Voters on a Variety of Topics" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-12-05.
- "Progress in Mississippi" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-12-05.
- Mississippi Miscellany