Well, sort of. This is pure awesome.
If you don’t know how Mississippi’s county courts work, marriage licenses have to be filed with the Circuit Clerk for the marriage to be legally recognized. The Chancery Clerk handles property transfers, among other things. Our friends at Deep South Progressive have the full story.
This is an good symbolic move, but there could be more to it than that. I’m not an attorney, so take the rest of this with a grain of salt, but here is what I’m thinking.
Property deeds are legal contracts. By filing this marriage license as a public document, it can be argued that Rankin County just recognized it as a legal contract between two people that is valid in Mississippi. Since a marriage license entails a long list of specific rights, and the county has recognized it as a valid contract, the State of Mississippi is violating the equal protection clause by failing to grant full marriage rights.
I don’t know if that holds up, really. But it can be argued. So a couple of things are possible if a lot of people start doing this.
- The state legislature might try to intervene, debate this in terms of “closing the loophole,” and do what the Mississippi Legislature does best: Make asses of themselves in the media.
- Someone could take a stack of out-of-state marriage licenses and file a lawsuit. If it’s supported by a well-managed communications campaign, that lawsuit could turn into a media circus, even if only in Mississippi.
Whether the legal argument works or not, either of those two outcomes would be good. They would bring more attention to the issue and get more Mississippians thinking about this, which has to happen if things are ever going to change.
image and caption info via The Campaign for Southern Equality’s Facebook page.