‘State-Sanctioned Discrimination’: Federal Judge Halts Mississippi Anti-LGBT ‘Religious Freedom’ Law


Judge Stops Law Minutes Before It Would Gave Gone Into Effect

In a dramatic move and strongly-worded ruling, a federal judge has halted a Mississippi anti-LGBT "religious freedom" law from going into effect. U.S. District Court Carlton Reeves issued his ruling minutes before Republican Gov. Phil Bryant's HB 1523 would have gone into effect.

"HB 1523 grants special rights to citizens who hold one of three 'sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions' reflecting disapproval of lesbian, gay, transgender, and unmarried persons," Reeves wrote, as Buzzfeed's Chris Geidner reported overnight. "That violates both the guarantee of religious neutrality and the promise of equal protection of the laws."

"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," Judge Reeves added. "It is not rationally related to a legitimate end."

As Geidner reported, HB 1523 "violated the First Amendment's Establishment Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause."

Indeed, the sweeping anti-gay law gave special rights to anyone who chose to claim they had a religious or moral belief that marriage is only between one man and one woman, and that sexual relations are only for those in a monogamous "traditional" marriage.

The law effectively gave license to anyone to discriminate against LGBT people, same-sex couples, and even single parents or anyone who was believed to ever have had sex outside the bounds of one-man, one-woman marriage. 

The sweeping "protections" also extended to organizations and businesses, allowing discrimination to permeate throughout the state in every manner of daily life.

"The deprivation of equal protection of the laws is HB 1523's very essence," Judge Reeves concluded.

Earlier this week Judge Reeves struck down a portion of HB 1523, which allowed clerks to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. That ruling will likely be used as a precedent in striking down similar laws in other states. 

Gov. Bryant (photo) was given an award for signing HB 1523 into law by the anti-gay hate group Family Research Council.

Roberta Kaplan, who argued before the U.S. Supreme Court the case that struck down DOMA, also argued these two cases against HB 1523 for the Campaign for Southern Equality.


Image via Wikimedia

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