- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Some in Mississippi praised Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states, while others said the court had overstepped its bounds.

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Joce Pritchett and Carla Webb, who live in Jackson, were married in 2013 in Maine. They were one of two couples who filed a federal lawsuit last year challenging Mississippi’s ban on same-sex marriage. They were home with their children and some friends when they learned of the Supreme Court ruling.

“It means our family is finally complete,” Pritchett said. “We don’t have to worry about where we travel, whether or not we will be considered married in this state or that state.”

She said the ruling ensures that same-sex married couples will have the same legal rights as other married couples, including making medical decisions for each other and filing joint tax returns.

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Mississippi House Speaker, Philip Gunn, R-Clinton: “This decision is in direct conflict with God’s design for marriage as set forth in the Bible. The threat of this decision to religious liberty is very clear. I pledge to protect the rights of Christian citizens to teach and operate on the basis of Christian conviction. “

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State Democratic Party spokeswoman Ouida Meruvia: “Freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation seems to be an inherent concept to a nation founded by declaring, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ However, today we’re reminded that equality has not been self-evident, but instead a struggle that generations of Mississippians have had to fight. And, today, these Mississippians have seen a victory. America has seen a victory. Freedom, equality, and love have seen a victory.”

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Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker: “I have always believed that marriage should be between a man and a woman, a belief shared by many Americans. There are people who hold strong views on both sides of this issue, and reasonable people can respectfully disagree. I will continue to work to protect the First Amendment rights of those who, based on their religious convictions, oppose same-sex marriage.”

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The Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, a group that filed a 2014 federal lawsuit seeking to overturn Mississippi’s ban on same-sex marriage: “LGBT families in Mississippi have always been equal in the eyes of God but now, finally, they are also equal under the law, with a safety net of legal protections surrounding them.”

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Republican U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran: “The Supreme Court decision does not and cannot change the firmly held faith of most Mississippians. I believe marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman. The court’s decision raises questions about the protection of religious liberties and First Amendment rights, which the Congress may have to address. It is important that this ruling does not result in individuals, businesses, and religious-oriented schools and organizations being penalized by the government for their belief in the traditional definition of marriage.”

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Rob Hill, state director of the gay-rights group Human Rights Campaign Mississippi: “This historic ruling makes it perfectly clear that there is no legal or moral justification for standing in the path of marriage equality. We call on Gov. Bryant to immediately make the institution of marriage accessible to same-sex couples in Mississippi and ensure that the ruling is fully implemented at every level.”

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Tim Wildmon, president of the Tupelo-based American Family Association: “Sadly, our nation’s highest court, which should be a symbol of justice, has chosen instead to be a tool of tyranny, elevating judicial will above the will of the people. There is no doubt that this morning’s ruling will imperil religious liberty in America, as individuals of faith who uphold time-honored marriage and choose not to advocate for same-sex unions will now be viewed as extremists.”

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Jennifer Riley-Collins, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi: “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.”

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