Allows Nearly Anyone to Discriminate Based on Their Closely Held Religious Beliefs
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has turned down a request to allow the full court to review a Mississippi state law that will allow nearly anyone – including individuals, businesses, and even government officials – to claim their "sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction" mandates they refuse to serve LGBT people, same-sex couples, anyone who has had sex out of the bonds of man-woman marriage, or an abortion. It also bars the state from taking action against anyone who discriminated based on their religious belief that that "male" and "female" refer to someone's "immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth."
Called the most extreme anti-LGBT bill in the nation, Republican Governor Phil Bryant last year signed HB 1523 into law. It's been on hold over several court challenges but right now, it will go into effect Friday.
A federal judge in 2016 it "state-sanctioned discrimination."
A three-judge panel on Friday rejected the Campaign for Southern Equality's request for an en banc hearing, by the full Fifth Circuit. The LGBT rights organization says they are appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Clarion Ledger reports CSE and Lambda Legal are also asking the Fifth Circuit to not allow the law to go into effect until the Supreme Court responds.
“We are appealing to our nation’s highest court to make sure that attempts by state legislatures to defy the law of the land and trample the rights of LGBT people are blocked for good,” Susan Sommer, director of Constitutional Litigation at Lambda Legal, says. “Mississippi’s HB 1523 creates a toxic environment of fear and prejudice. Along with other anti-LGBT laws across the country like those in North Carolina and Texas, these laws are a pack of wolves in sheep’s clothing, dressing up discrimination and calling it religious freedom.”
No word yet from the Supreme Court – stay tuned.
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