Mississippi attempts to enforce anti-LGBT law

Local News

A federal appeals court has ruled that the State of Mississippi can enforce a law that allows merchants and government employees to cite religious beliefs to deny services to same-sex couples, but opponents of the law immediately pledged to appeal.

A three-judge panel of the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a judge’s decision that had blocked the law.  US District Judge Carlton Reeves had ruled that the law unconstitutionally establishes preferred beliefs and creates unequal treatment for LGBT people. His ruling prevented the law from taking effect last July.  

The law will still not go into effect immediately, as the Judges gave the Plaintiffs time to appeal.  Legal experts said the law, which started as House Bill 1523, is the broadest religious-objections measure enacted by any state.

Opponents are now vowing to fight back, even taking the issue to the Supreme Court.  “I think that this sends the wrong message to the people outside our state, says Orlansky of the Mississippi Center for Justice.
 
Forest Thigpen, of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy disagrees, saying, “Fifth Circuit made the right decision in dismissing the complaint because plaintiffs have not been harmed by the law.”
 
If enacted, Mississippi’s “Religious Objections” measure couuld provide a loophole to the US Supreme Court decision granting equal protections for same-sex couples.
 
Governor, Phil Bryant said it, “simply prevents government interference with the constitutional right to exercise sincerely held religious beliefs”.
 
This latest ruling, reminiscent of Indiana’s Contentious Religious Freedom bill signed into law by then-Governor Mike Pence allowed business owners to refuse service based on sexual orientation.
 
Opponents of the Mississippi law say it endorses blatant bigotry, and promise to fiercely push back.  
 
Legal experts say if upheld, the Mississippi law would be the broadest of its kind enacted by any state.  
 
 
 
Erielle Reshef, ABC News, New York
 
 

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