Mississippi officials consider options to avoid issuance of gay marriage licenses

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant says 'we will not change or alter our religious convictions to suit the whims of the court or the culture.'(Wikipedia)

Officials in Mississippi are considering getting out of the marriage business altogether in response to the US Supreme Court ruling on Friday legalising same-sex marriage nationwide.

Republican State House Judiciary Chairman Andy Gipson, who is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, told the Clarion Ledger, "One of the options that other states have looked at is removing the state marriage license requirement."

He added: "We will be researching what options there are. I personally can see pros and cons to that. I don't know if it would be better to have no marriage certificate sponsored by the state or not. But it's an option out there to be considered."

Conservatives and Republicans have condemned the Supreme Court's ruling.

Mississippi's Republican Gov. Phil Bryant said "we will not change or alter our religious convictions to suit the whims of the court or the culture."

"This issue remains as it has always been a spiritual issue, and no court can change eternal truth. With love for all people, it is my prayer that we will continue to proclaim and embrace the truth of Biblical marriage," he said.

State House Speaker Philip Gunn said the Supreme Court decision "is in direct conflict with God's design for marriage as set forth in the Bible."

Mississippi circuit clerks started issuing same-sex marriage licenses after Attorney General Jim Hood gave his go-signal.

But Hood later said circuit clerks will only issue the licenses "when the 5th Circuit lifts the stay of Judge Reeves' order."

He was referring to the decision of US District Judge Carlton Reeves that overturned the state's same-sex marriage ban based on a lawsuit filed by two lesbian couples, according to the Clarion Ledger. Reeves also ordered a stay in his ruling pending the state's appeal.

But on Monday, Hood changed course, saying that his order last Friday "seems to have been misinterpreted as prohibiting Circuit Clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The statement was merely meant to explain that an order of the Fifth Circuit would be necessary to lift the stay."

In Arkansas, county clerk Dana Guffey said she is planning to resign because of her objection to issuing same-sex marriage license.

Republican state Sen. Jason Rapert posted on Twitter that "county clerks have rights—I stand with any elected official to refuse to comply with an unjust ruling that violates their religious beliefs."

Rapert encouraged Arkansas leaders to support county clerks who will refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

"I encourage all political leaders of Arkansas and leaders in the faith community to rally around county clerks who choose to refuse to comply with an unjust ruling that violates religious freedom and state's rights," he wrote. "I encourage all likeminded political leaders around the entire nation to do the same. We cannot sit idly by while 5 robed lawyers try to seize power from the states and the people."