Well first of all…YEEEEHAAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!! WOOHOOOOOO!!!! YAS! AWESOME!!!!!!!
A’ight y’all. Down to business. They say, “It ain’t over til it’s over” for a reason. And it ain’t over. We scored a victory in the battle, but we haven’t won the war. Not by a long shot. This is a temporary ban (issued at 11:30pm last night) which may be appealed. To stop it completely, it needs to be fully repealed.
The State of Mississippi passed the most sweeping “Religious Freedom Law” ever seen in the history of ever earlier this year. It contained three major “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions”:
- Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman
- Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage (Make sure you catch this! Two plaintiffs were an unmarried heterosexual couple.)
- Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth
The bill then goes on to protect anyone from discrimination who acts in accordance with those beliefs.
US District Judge Carlton Reeves found the Mississippi bill unconstitutional on several grounds. First, it violates the Equal Protection Clause.
HB 1523 “withdraws from homosexuals, [transgender, and unmarried-but-sexually-active persons,] but no others, specific legal protection from the injuries caused by discrimination, and it forbids the reinstatement of these laws and policies.” If individuals had standing to file Romer before Amendment 2 went into effect, these plaintiffs may certainly do the same. The State’s argument overlooks the fundamental injurious nature of HB 1523 – the establishment of a broad-based system by which LGBT persons and unmarried persons can be subjected to differential treatment based solely on their status.
Second, it is a blatant violation of the Establishment Clause, in which the State elevated one religious belief above all others.
Today’s individual plaintiffs have attested that they are citizens and residents of Mississippi, they disagree with the religious beliefs elevated by HB 1523, HB 1523 conveys the State’s disapproval and diminution of their own deeply held religious beliefs, HB 1523 sends a message that they are not welcome in their political community, and HB 1523 sends a message that the state government is unwilling to protect them.
Finally, Judge Reeves dispelled the myth propagated by the bill’s backers that without this bill, businesses would be forced to bake cakes and pastors to perform weddings against their will. Mississippi passed a bill in 2014 that already made sure this protection existed, even though it was not actually necessary. (Because we know that without a specific anti-discrimination law on the books, a business cannot be compelled; the First Amendment already protects pastors from performing weddings for anyone with whom they do not wish.)
Mississippi’s RFRA grants all people the right to seek relief from governmental interference in their religious exercise, not just those who hold certain beliefs. This critical distinction between RFRA and HB 1523 cannot be overlooked. Although states are permitted to have more than one law intended to further the same legitimate interest, HB 1523 does not advance the interest the State says it does. 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. It is not rationally related to a legitimate end.
What now? Attorney General Jim Hood (D) is indicating he may not be willing to further defend this bill. This puts him at odds with the Super Conservative State Majority, so we will just have to wait and see. My favorite reaction so far comes from our Speaker of the House, who supposedly has a law degree and a brain.
Disappointed in Judge Reeves’ HB1523 ruling. We felt like this was a good bill,protecting religious beliefs & the rights of LGBT community.
I know, right? That is the level of bullshit we face here in Mississippi, y’all. On a positive note, since the bill has been blocked, the GOP will have no issues with having Trump or Newt coming to our fine state. Judge Reeves was nice enough to protect their heterosexual cheating asses from being discriminated against, too. Wasn’t that nice of him?
I will end this with a quote from Derek Johnson, the Mississippi head of the NAACP, from this morning’s rally at the Capitol in Jackson.
“There is no place in this state or this country for legal discrimination. Equal protection of the law is something we should all appreciate in this country. We must look forward to a future where all of its citizens are respected and treated with dignity.”
NO HATE IN MY STATE! –Renee D. Webb