HB 1523, also known as the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Religious Discrimination Act,” was signed into law by Governor Phil Bryant last summer but was blocked by an injunction from U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves. Thursday, a three-judge panel of the 5th circuit court ruled that plaintiffs opposing the law have not been personally harmed by the law, and therefore don’t have the standing to sue.
The bill outlines that the state government will not intervene in cases of businesses and religious institutions declining services on the grounds of opposing same-sex marriage, extramarital sex or transgender individuals. The bill also includes language stating that “Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman” and “Male (man) or female (woman) refers to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.” HB 1523 can be viewed in full by clicking here.
After signing the bill last year, Governor Phil Bryant spoke about what the legislation sets out to accomplish and that it’s about both sides recognizing each other’s rights.
“There’s no one on the part of the Mississippi legislature or the governor’s office who wants to discriminate or harm anyone. If they are worried about protecting people’s rights, also understand that people of faith have rights,” Bryant told WLBT in Jackson.
If the court’s decision stands, the law will go into effect. According to a statement from Roberta Kaplan, lead counsel for the plaintiffs in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant, the appeal process will begin quickly.
“This decision is not only deeply upsetting for the rights of LGBT individuals living in Mississippi, but also for the protection of religious liberty in our country. Our clients have already suffered enough. The state communicated a message loudly and clearly with the passage of HB 1523: only certain anti-LGBT beliefs will get the protection and endorsement of the state,” Kaplan told SouthernEquality.org. “We plan to seek an en banc review of the decision by the 5th Circuit.”
An en banc review is a session in which a case is heard before all the judges of a court rather than by a panel of judges selected from them.
An appeal would delay the law from going into effect until the court’s final ruling.
Steven Gagliano is the managing editor of HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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