Court clears state LGBT objections law; appeal likely
JACKSON | A federal appeals court said Thursday that Mississippi can start enforcing 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 U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit reversed a judge’s decision that had blocked the law.
U.S. 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 appeals court said plaintiffs failed to prove that they would be harmed by the law, which started as House Bill 1523.
Legal experts said it is the broadest religious-objections measure enacted
by any state.
The law championed and signed in 2016 by Republican Gov. Phil Bryant sought to protect three beliefs: marriage is only between a man and a woman; sex should only take place in such a marriage; and a person’s gender is determined at birth and cannot be altered.
It would allow clerks to cite religious objections to recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and would protect merchants who refuse services to LGBT people. It could affect adoptions and foster care, business practices and school bathroom policies.