Mississippi Attorney General Issues New Marriage Equality Guidance to Circuit Clerks

June 29, 2015


Morgan Miller, ACLU of Mississippi, 769-447-6678; 

JACKSON, Miss – Today, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood issued new guidance to Circuit Clerks in Mississippi regarding marriage licenses for same-sex couples. The following is a response from American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi Executive Director Jennifer Riley-Collins:

“We are pleased with today’s guidance to the Circuit Clerks issued by Attorney General Hood. Clerks across the state have started allowing same-sex couples to marry without waiting for further order from the courts. We hope that couples across the state will encounter no more roadblocks to equality. Circuit Clerks and all other governmental officials who have sworn an oath to follow the Constitution should move swiftly to comply with the law of the land. If there are any issues the ACLU of Mississippi remains committed to standing in defense of marriage equality across the state. 

“If any couple encounters an issue please contact our office at 601-354-3408.”

Visit our Love Wins page more information on the Supreme Court decision, FAQ's on getting married in Mississippi and our hotline. 

ACLU-MS Responds to Attorney General’s Guidance to Circuit Clerks

June 26, 2015


Morgan Miller, ACLU of Mississippi, 769-447-6678; 

JACKSON, Miss – The following is a statement from American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi Executive Director Jennifer Riley-Collins in response to Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood’s guidance to Circuit Clerks about the Supreme Court of the United States’ ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges:

“Everyone has a duty to follow the Constitution whether or not there is a specific injunction ordering them to do so on pain of contempt. Common sense should rule. A court order should not be needed to have the State of Mississippi follow the Constitution. 

“The Supreme Court has spoken and everyone should be complying with the Constitution. The right question isn’t about timing around lifting the stay on the injunction. The question is whether states and their officers have to comply with the Constitution now. The answer is yes. States and government officials cannot drag their heels when it comes to their constitutional obligations. 

“The ACLU of Mississippi remains prepared to ensure and defend the freedom of marriage to all. While we hope the Clerks will begin to issue the licenses soon, all necessary legal actions remain an option.”

Love Should Not Wait

June 26, 2015

By Jennifer Riley-Collins

As many of you know I am a proud Mississippian. I am also very proud to be the Executive Director of the ACLU of MS. I hope that today the two align like never before. Today, SCOTUS ruled that all people have a right to equality. Once before, when that was the ruling of the high court the State of MS was purposefully slow and put barriers in place to prevent equality from being recognized. 

This morning the MS Atty General issued guidance to Circuit Clerks that they were not allowed to issues licenses to couples until the 5th Circuit lifted its stay. Even though the SCOTUS decision came down several hours ago, we are waiting on the Court to lift its stay. We are hopeful that the Court will see as Judge Reeves did that no person should be treated as a second class citizen and will lift the stay of his order recognizing the right to marry. We are hopeful that Mississippi's officials will embrace everyone and will not attempt to set up barriers to this momentous decision.

I pray that the State of Mississippi is on the right side of history this time. Aren't we tired of being last?

FAQ: Getting Married in Mississippi

June 26, 2015

Before going to the courthouse it is a good idea to verify this information with your local County Clerk’s office as requirements may change! Their phone numbers are listed at the bottom of this page.

Generally, here’s what you need to know.

What to bring:

  • Both parties must be preset to apply for a license.
  • Full name and address of both people applying for a license
  •  Names and address of parents of both parties
  •   Drivers license and social security card for both parties.
  •  $21 Cash
  • For previously married applicants please bring

○     Date last marriage ended (divorce, death, etc)

○     Number of previous marriages

○     If divorced within the last 6 months bring divorce decree.

Please note:

  •  There is no waiting period. You may marry right away.
  •  There is no blood test required.
  •  If you are already legally married in another state or country then your marriage is automatically recognized by the state of Mississippi. You do not need to record any documents or apply for a Mississippi marriage license.

If you encounter any problems while applying for a marriage license please call the Mississippi ACLU at 601-354-3408. 

Mississippi County Clerk's Offices

Adams County

Natchey, MS



Alcorn County

Corinth, MS



Amite County

Liberty, MS



Attala County

Kosciusko, MS



Benton County

Ashland, MS



Bolivar County

Cleveland, MS



Calhoun County

Pittsboro, MS



Carroll County

Carrollton, MS



Chickasay County

Houston, MS



Claiborne County

Port Gibson, MS



Clay County

West Point, MS



Coahoma County

Clarksdale, MS



Copiah County

Hazlehurst, MS



Covington County

Collins, MS



De Soto County

Hernando, MS



Forrest County

Hattiesburg, MS



Franklin County

Meadville, MS



George County

Lucedale, MS



Greene County

Leakesville, MS



Grenada County

Grenada, MS



Hancock County

Bay St. Louis, MS



Harrison County

Gulfport, MS



Hinds County

Raymond, MS



Holmes County

Lexington, MS



Itawamba County

Fulton, MS



Jackson County

Pascagoula, MS



Jefferson Davis County

Prentiss, MS



Jones County

Laurel, MS



Lafayette County

Oxford, MS



Lamar County

Purvis, MS



Lauderdale County

Meridian, MS



Leake County

Carthage, MS



Lee County

Tupelo, MS



Leflore County

Greenwood, MS



Lincoln County

Brookhaven, MS



Lowndes County

Columbus, MS



Madison County

Canton, MS



Marion County

Columbia, MS



Marshall County

Holly Springs, MS



Monroe County

Aberdeen, MS



Montgomery County

Winona, MS



Neshoba County

Philadelphia, MS



Newton County

Decatur, MS



Noxubee County

Macon, MS



Oktibbeha County

Starkville, MS



Panola County

Batesville, MS



Pearl River County

Polarville, MS



Pike County

Magnolia, MS



Prentiss County

Booneville, MS



Quitman County

Marks, MS



Rankin County

Brandon, MS



Scott County

Forest, MS



Simpson County

Mendenhall, MS



Stone County

Wiggins, MS



Sunflower County

Indianola, MS



Tate County

Senatobia, MS



Tishomingo County

Iuka, MS



Union County

New Albany, MS



Warren County

Vicksburg, MS



Washington County

Greenville, MS



Winston County

Louisville, MS



Yalobusha County

Water Valley, MS



Yazoo County

Yazoo City, MS


ACLU-MS Responds to Supreme Court Marriage Equality Ruling

June 26, 2015


Morgan Miller, ACLU of Mississippi, 601-354-3408; 

JACKSON, Miss – The following is a statement from American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi Executive Director Jennifer Riley-Collins on the Supreme Court of the United States’ ruling inObergefell v. Hodges:

“Today’s historic Supreme Court ruling means same-sex couples will soon have the freedom to marry and equal respect for their marriages across America. This ruling will bring joy to families, and final nationwide victory to the decades-long freedom to marry movement. This is a momentous win for freedom, equality, inclusion, and above all, love. We can celebrate that ours is a country that keeps its promise of the pursuit of happiness, liberty, and justice for all.

“Same-sex couples and their families have waited long enough. We hope state officials move swiftly to implement the Constitution’s command. 

“Our movement must harness the momentum from the marriage conversation to the work of securing additional advances towards equality, especially nondiscrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. LGBT people in Mississippi can still be fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes, and denied service in restaurants and shops simply for being who they are.”

ACLU-MS Responds to Action Against Senatobia Family Cheering at Graduation

June 05, 2015


Morgan Miller, ACLU of Mississippi, 769-447-6678; 

JACKSON, Miss – The following is a statement from American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi Legal Director Charles Irvin in response to the criminal action taken against a family cheering at Senatobia High School’s graduation ceremony:

“The First Amendment of the United States Constitution clearly prohibits the making of any law that would impede the freedom of speech. Citizens should be able to enjoy the right of free speech, especially at a congratulatory event, like a high school graduation. The action of charging the family with disturbing the peace by Senatobia Municipal School District Superintendent Jay Foster infringes upon the family’s exercise of this right. The cheering by the family does not qualify as a disturbance of the peace and should not have elicited a criminal response. Additionally, the family’s celebration was not calculated to provoke a breach of the peace, nor would it have led to a breach of the peace.

“The school’s response points to the issue of the subjective enforcement of these kinds of laws in Mississippi and across the country. The ACLU of Mississippi will stand in defense of citizens’ right to the freedom of speech and condemn an unnecessary criminal response to these kinds of actions.”

2015 Elections are coming up. Here's what you need to know

June 04, 2015

The 2015 Primary and General Elections are coming up soon and so are those registration deadlines!

Primary Elections

July 3rd - Voter Registration Deadline for Primary Elections

August 1st - In-Person Absentee Voting Deadline, 12:00pm

August 2nd - Absentee Ballot by Mail Deadline, 5:00pm

August 4th - Primary Election Day, polls open from 7am - 7pm

August 11th - Voter ID Affidavit Ballot Deadline, 5:00pm

August 22nd - Runoff In-Person Absentee Voting Deadline, 12:00pm

August 24th -Runoff Absentee Ballot by Mail Deadline, 5:00pm

August 25th - Primary Runoff Election Day, polls open from 7am - 7pm

September 1st - Voter ID Affidavit Ballot Deadline, 5:00pm

General Elections

October 3rd - Voter Registration Deadline, 12:00pm

October 31st - In-Person Absentee Voting Deadline, 12:00pm

November 2nd - Absentee Ballot by Mail Deadline, 5:00pm

November 3rd - General Election Day, polls open from 7am - 7pm

November 10th - Voter ID Affidavit Ballot Deadline, 5:00pm

November 21st - General Election Runoff In-Person Absentee Voting Deadline, 12:00pm

November 23rd - General Election Runoff Absentee Ballot by Mail Deadline, 5:00pm

November 24th - General Election Runoff Day, polls open from 7am - 7pm 

See the full calendar on the Secretary of State's website. If you have questions or concerns, call 601-354-3408 or email 

For information about voting rights and voter ID, visit our Know Your Rights page

Category: Op-eds

I Know an American 'Internment' Camp When I See One

May 27, 2015

By Satsuki Ina, Professor Emeritus, California State University, Sacramento

Last summer, the Obama administration announced its plans to open new immigrant family detention centers in response to the wave of women and children fleeing violence in Central and South America and seeking asylum in the United States. The ACLU  and other advocacy groups quickly opposed the White House's policy because of the harm it would inflict on already traumatized women and children. This month,  The New York Times editorial board described family detention simply as "immoral," and the U.N. Human Rights Council called upon the U.S. to "halt the detention of immigrant families and children." In the following piece, psychotherapist Satsuki Ina, who was born in a Japanese-American prison camp during World War II, recounts her visits to two so-called family detention facilities in Texas and the psychological toll detention takes on the women and children imprisoned there. — Matthew Harwood

I was born behind barbed wire 70 years ago in the Tule Lake Segregation Center,  a maximum-security prison camp for Japanese-Americans in Northern California. My parents’ only crime was having the face of the enemy. They were never charged or convicted of a crime; yet they were forced to raise me in a prison camp when President Franklin Roosevelt signed a wartime executive order ultimately authorizing the incarceration of 120,000 people of Japanese descent. We were deemed a danger to the “national security” and incarcerated without due process of law.

When the war ended, my family was moved to a prison camp in Crystal City, Texas, and finally, after a total of 4 years of captivity, we were released. Decades later, our government acknowledged the injustice that had been committed. I never expected to return to Texas, and I certainly never expected to see other families incarcerated just as my own family had been 73 years ago. But this past year, the U.S. government created something that compelled me to go back.

...Read more from ACLU National

A Plug-and-Play Model Policy for Police Body Cameras

May 21, 2015

By Chad Marlow, Advocacy and Policy Counsel, ACLU


Staten Island.


North Charleston.


An unarmed person of color. Dead at the hands of law enforcement. And then another. And another. And another. And another.

Seeking to stem the tide of senseless death, a national search began for an appropriate response. In short order, a growing chorus of elected officials, law enforcement, and community leaders settled on a common answer: police body cameras. Recent surveys suggest that more than one in four police agencies have already started using them.

Unfortunately, the violence, injustice, and inequity that plague our system of law enforcement will not be solved simply by affixing tiny cameras to officers' lapels. In fact, without the proper policies in place, the widespread deployment of police body cameras could do more harm than good. If body cameras are used to cast a net of roving surveillance over communities of color and low-income neighborhoods, they will cause harm. If police officers are given discretion as to when to turn on and off their cameras and key moments go uncaptured when violence erupts, they will cause harm. If video footage is captured but state laws or law enforcement policies prohibit the public from viewing it, they will cause harm. And if body camera videos are released en masse, resulting in the widespread violation of American's privacy with no public benefit — except perhaps to fans of TMZ and "COPS" style reality shows — they will cause harm.

If, however, police body cameras are deployed within the framework of a well-considered policy that strikes the proper balance between promoting transparency and protecting privacy, police body cameras might just do some good. To that end, and in response to overwhelming demand, the ACLU is releasing a model bill for use by state legislatures and local police departments to guide the development of their laws, policies, and procedures on the use of body cameras. This model bill is far more than a wish list — it is a comprehensive plug-and-play policy for those seeking to implement a sound police body camera program.

Continue reading here....

Reality vs. Rhetoric

May 20, 2015

The deaths of the fallen Hattiesburg police officers were unequivocally unnecessary loss of valuable and valued lives.  No young man should have his life taken as the result of a violent and vengeful act.  Last Sunday, the families and community of the fallen Hattiesburg police officers woke to a new day in our lives without these brave young men.  Also and unfortunately last Saturday, Mississippians woke to find that Governor Bryant had chosen to capitalize on this tragedy to spew divisive words instead of encouraging our community mourn and heal together. I was appalled to read his acrimonious words which clearly had been written and submitted for publication even before these brave men were laid to rest. 

Out of dignity and respect for the families, the community and our great state, I purposefully delayed submitting a response as a citizen of Mississippi and in my capacity as the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi (ACLU of MS).  I am, however, compelled to respond to the Governor’s comments.  The governor sent a message intended to invoke fear in the hearts of the “good people” in order to set conditions to further erode the freedoms of Mississippians who in coded language are referred to as the “criminal class”.  I cannot sit quietly by and let his words go unchallenged. I write this letter to submit to this state and all of its people facts over fiction.

The Governor begins his statement with “It is becoming apparentthat a deadly conflict now exists”. While this reality is just starting to become apparent to the Governor, it has been a reality in the lives of young men of color for decades.  The facts are that blacks disproportionately are subjected to abuse during traffic stops.  Blacks are nearly four times more likely than whites to experience the threat or use of force during interactions with the police.  In the first month of this year alone, nearly 100 young people of color were killed in police related encounters across this country according to which documents occurrences of people killed by nonmilitary law enforcement officers, whether in the line of duty or not, and regardless of reason or method.  This reality, while justbecoming apparent to the governor, has caused mothers and fathers when teaching their teenagers to drive to keep their hands at “ten and two” on the steering wheel when, not if, stopped by the police.  “Ten and two” not because that is what the driving manual states but because we hope that it will help our children survive a close encounter with the police.  Long before the phrase “hands up, don’t shoot” was coined, we have been forced to teach these additional lessons of survival when driving while black. 

The governor goes on to state this conflict exists between the criminal class and law enforcement and then immediately makes a reference to race.  Translated, his coded message equates the “criminal class” to people of color.  The governor’s race-based assumptions perpetuate negative racial stereotypes that are harmful to our diverse democracy, and materially impair our efforts to maintain a fair and just society. The facts, according to the FBI, in 2011, are that white people committed about 6.58 million crimes; blacks committed 2.7 million and that white individuals were arrested more often for violent crimes than any other race, accounting for 59.4 percent of those arrests. His message only further alienates communities of color from law enforcement, hinders community policing efforts, and causes further erosion credibility and trust among the people of Mississippi. 

He states “[t]his is an attack on law enforcement  . . . by the criminal class” (again his coded fear summoning messaging).  The fact is that there has been a long standing attack on young men of color.  “Young black males in recent years were at a far greater risk of being shot dead by police than their white counterparts – 21 times greater”, according to a ProPublica analysis of federally collected data on fatal police shootings.” 

“Simply put, if you don't violate the law, disobey a police officer during an intervention and don't resist arrest, your chances of being in conflict with an officer are non-existent.” This statement was among the most ludicrous statements made by the Governor.  He further asserts this is not a racial conflict and uses the word “allegedly” in reference to racial profiling as if this is a baseless notion or some whimsical myth.  The facts are racial profiling is a real and pervasive problem.  Even former President Bush and the U. S. Supreme Court acknowledged and condemned racial profiling as a reality.  Data collected across America documents the persistence of racial profiling throughout the country. “Hit rate” analysis of stops and searches innumerous jurisdictionsshow that people of color, including Blacks and Latinos, are stopped, frisked, and searched at rates far higher than whites, but areno more likely, and very oftenlesslikely, to have drugs or weapons on them. Racial profiling violates the U.S. Constitution by betraying the fundamental American promise of equal protection under the law and infringing on the Fourth Amendment guarantee that all people be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. 

“Organized destructive movements” these words penned by the governor are reminiscent of rhetoric of the “good people”, who commonly referred to themselves as the White Citizens Council during the 60s and 70s,  “a time of social unrest” according to the governor.  Historical fact refers to this period of as the Civil Rights Movement.  An organized movement, such as the Civil Rights movement, typically arises when intolerable conditions imposed by an oppressive government have caused a people to be “sick and tired of being sick and tired” in the words of the Civil Rights veteran and heroine, Fannie Lou Hammer.  The organized civil movement of peoples of color joined and supported by people of different races brought about positive change for all people of this country.  I wonder if Governor Bryant were governor in the 60s or 70s would he have referred actions by the Citizens' Councils, white segregationists and supremacists, who organized to oppose integration and the Supreme Court decision, or the Ole Miss riots as an “organized destructive movements”.  Or maybe he would have stood on the steps and said  about the Civil Rights Movement that such undertaking a will not come here because “our people are just simply better behaved and more respectful of authority” as he stated on May 1, 2015 in reference to rioting in Baltimore and other incidents of racial discord in America.  To many of us, his words were received as coded language “our [black] people” know their place”. 

The governor calls on the “good people” to once again stand for law and order.  It is this type of speechmaking which spurred Jim Crow laws.  I, therefore, call on all the people of Mississippi to stand for and embrace fairness that we esteem as Americans and to build trust not discord between police and our communities that is essential to keeping all of us safe.  I also implore all Mississippians to be aware and to be vigilant in defense of freedoms.  Be ever watchful in the next legislative session, be it special or regular.  The Governor’s message should be considered an early warning that knee jerk fear baited legislation will be introduced to further erode the rights, freedoms and liberties of Mississippians, especially those he has attempted to disguise as a “criminal class”. 

The ACLU of MS in no way condones criminal activities or the unlawful killing of any law enforcement.  Equally we oppose the abuse and unnecessary killing of ordinary citizens at the hands of law enforcement officers.  I reiterate my intent here is not to further divide but to delineate what is truth from rhetoric intended to expand the still existing rift the between the people of this state.  Only together will Mississippi be made better.


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