The Latest: No judges sought recusal from doing gay weddings

AP News
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Posted: Jul 01, 2016 6:52 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Latest on Mississippi's religious objections bill (all times local):

5:50 p.m.

No Mississippi judges filed forms saying they have religious objections to officiating over weddings for gay or lesbian couples.

A state law that was blocked by a federal judge would have let judges file forms with the state Administrative Office of Courts to recuse themselves from doing weddings for same-sex couples.

Beverly Pettigrew Kraft, spokeswoman for the offices, says no judge submitted one. The law was blocked just before it was supposed to take effect Friday.

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5:15 p.m.

Only one Mississippi government clerk filed a form seeking recusal from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

However, state Health Department spokeswoman Liz Sharlot tells The Associated Press that the department no longer has any record of who filed the form.

A federal judge blocked a law that that would let clerks cite their own religious beliefs to step aside from granting marriage licenses to gay or lesbian couples.

Sharlot says the law became moot before it was supposed to take effect Friday, so the state registrar of vital records mailed the recusal form back to the official who filed it.

The registrar works for the Health Department, and Sharlot says the department has no paper or electronic record of who submitted the form or where they work.

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1:15 p.m.

National groups are divided over a judge's decision to block a Mississippi law dealing with religious objections to same-sex marriage.

Chad Griffin is president of Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights group. Praising the decision by U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves, Griffin says the law "was a deliberate attempt to undermine marriage equality and the dignity of LGBTQ Mississippians."

Tony Perkins is president of Family Research Council, a group that advocates marriage as only between a man and a woman. Perkins says "the judge's religious animus against the people of Mississippi is as clear as day."

The law would protect three beliefs: That marriage is only between a man and a woman; that sex should only take place in such a marriage; and that a person's gender is determined at birth and cannot be altered.

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10:50 a.m.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood says he doesn't know if his office will appeal a federal judge's ruling that blocked a state law dealing with religious objections to gay marriage.

Hood is the only Democrat in statewide office, and his staff had defended the law that was passed by the Republican-majority Legislature and signed by a Republican governor.

But after U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves wrote a sharply worded order blocking the law, Hood said Friday that "the churchgoing public was duped" into thinking the law would protect religious freedoms.

Hood says an appeal could cost tens of thousands of dollars, and that might not be a good use of tax dollars when the state budget is tight and services such as mental health care are being cut.

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10:20 a.m.

An ordained United Methodist minister who sued to block a Mississippi law dealing with religious objections to same-sex marriage says the law doesn't represent the beliefs of her or many others.

Carol Burnett was in a diverse group of straight and gay plaintiffs who sued. She says legislators have no business passing a law favoring one set of religious beliefs over others.

The law would protect three beliefs: That marriage is only between a man and a woman; that sex should only take place in such a marriage; and that a person's gender is determined at birth and cannot be altered.

After a federal judge blocked the law from taking effect Friday. Burnett says "when there is no separation of church and state there is no freedom of religion."

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9:40 a.m.

The primary sponsor of a Mississippi law dealing with religious objections to same-sex marriage says he's disappointed a federal judge blocked it.

House Speaker Philip Gunn, a Republican, said Friday that he and other sponsors thought it was "a good bill that focused on protecting religious beliefs, while also protecting the rights of the LGBT community."

The law would protect three beliefs: That marriage is only between a man and a woman; that sex should only take place in such a marriage; and that a person's gender is determined at birth and cannot be altered.

Gunn is a leader in his local Baptist church. The bill had significant support from Southern Baptists and Pentecostals in the state.

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8:05 a.m.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant says he's disappointed by a federal judge's ruling that blocks a law that would let merchants and government employees cite religious beliefs to deny or delay services to same-sex couples.

In a statement issued Friday morning, Bryant said he looks forward "to an aggressive appeal" of the ruling.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves filed orders in two lawsuits blocking the law just moments before it was to take effect Friday.

The law would protect three beliefs: That marriage is only between a man and a woman; that sex should only take place in such a marriage; and that a person's gender is determined at birth and cannot be altered.

Reeves wrote that the law is unconstitutional because "the state has put its thumb on the scale to favor some religious beliefs over others."

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1 a.m.

A federal judge has blocked a Mississippi law that would let merchants and government employees cite religious beliefs to deny or delay services to same-sex couples.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves filed orders in two lawsuits blocking the law just moments before it was to take effect Friday.

State attorneys are expected to appeal his decisions.

The law would protect three beliefs: That marriage is only between a man and a woman; that sex should only take place in such a marriage; and that a person's gender is determined at birth and cannot be altered.

Reeves wrote that the law is unconstitutional because "the state has put its thumb on the scale to favor some religious beliefs over others." He also wrote that it violates the Constitution's equal protection guarantee.