Judge blocks outrageous anti-LGBT Mississippi law
A US federal judge has blocked a Mississippi law that would have allowed religion to be used as grounds to deny LGBT equal rights.
U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves blocked a Mississippi law allowing almost any individual or organisation to justify discrimination against LGBT people, single mothers, unwed couples and others – moments before it was set to take effect today.
HB 1523 would have allowed discrimination based on three religious 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.
If put into effect, the Republican-backed law would have allowed clerks to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples, protected merchants who refused to serve LGBT people, and would have affected adoptions, foster care, business practices, and school bathroom policies.
Earlier this week, Judge Reeves had blocked the portion of the law that allowed government clerks and officials the power to recuse themselves from processing gay wedding documents.
But today, Judge Reeves issued a separate ruling that blocks the law as a whole – just hours before it was set to come into effect
Judge Reeves ruled that the provision unconstitutionally established preferred beliefs and created unequal treatment for gay people.
In a notably ill-tempered ruling, the judge wrote that the title, text and history of the law made it clear the state was attempting to put LGBT citizens “back in their place” after last summer’s historic US Supreme Court ruling that legalised same-sex marriage nationwide.
The judge wrote: “In physics, every action has its equal and opposite reaction. In politics, every action has its predictable overreaction.”
Noting the law is in clear violation of the US Constitution, he wrote: “There are almost endless explanations for how HB 1523 condones discrimination against the LGBT community, but in its simplest terms it denies LGBT citizens equal protection under the law.
“HB 1523 does not advance the interest the State says it does. Under the guise of providing additional protection for religious exercise, it creates a vehicle for state-sanctioned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. It is not rationally related to a legitimate end.”
After signing the bill in April, Republican Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant won praise from conservative Christian groups and received a religious freedom award from the Family Research Council.
However, he also faced an immense amount of backlash nationally as well as hundreds of protesters who went to his mansion to demand the repeal of the anti-LGBT law.
State attorneys, who argued that the Mississippi law provided reasonable accommodations for people with deeply held religious beliefs that same-sex marriage is wrong, are expected to appeal the ruling.