Mississippi’s anti-LGBTQ ”religious freedom” law will be allowed to stand after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge today, letting a lower federal court ruling to stand.
The Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act of 2016, was signed into law by Republican Governor Phillip Bryant less than a year after the SCOTUS ruling in favor of Marriage Equality. It allows businesses and even government employees to refuse to serve the LGBTQ community if it conflicts with their deeply held religious beliefs.
SCOTUS left in place a ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that found the plaintiffs, including same-sex couples and civil rights groups, did not have legal standing to bring a law suit for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Mississippi law has not been implemented yet and more legal challenges are expected, even after today’ decision by SCOTUS. If it does become law, anyone could be turned away due to their LGBTQ status with no more legal standing to bring a discrimination suit.
LAMDA Legal countered with:
”We will keep fighting in Mississippi until we overturn this harmful law, and in any state where anti-gay legislators pass laws to roll back LGBTQ civil rights.”
The Mississippi law would ”protect” conservative Christians who believe that marriage should only be between one man and one woman and that all sex of any kind outside of marriage is a sin, and that a person’s gender is what someone is assigned at birth, and not their gender identity. So, a business could refuse service to straight people who are having sex with the benefit of marriage. Maybe restaurants can have a short survey for customers to fill out before they are seated.
A federal judge in Mississippi blocked the law in 2016, arguing that it allowed for ”arbitrary discrimination”, but the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the ruling.
It is not about wedding cake bakeries; hotels, ER doctors, any business owners, could legally deny services to hardworking LGBTQ families in Mississippi.
The Supreme Court is also deciding a case involving a Colorado baker, Jack Phillips, who is claiming that if he is being forced to make cakes for same-sex weddings it would be in violation of his First Amendment rights. The Mississippi case is the flip side of the Colorado case. That question is whether the state can require a baker who sells wedding cakes to make one for a same-sex couple’s wedding.
The cases are testing the ability of states to regulate what happens when LGBTQ Rights are conflict with religious freedoms. Colorado’s law bolsters LGBTQ rights by enforcing their anti-discrimination laws, even if the baker says he has a religious objection to same-sex marriage. The Mississippi law gives priority to religious rights. Besides allowing government clerks to refuse issuing same-sex marriage licenses, it lets adoption and foster-care organizations decline to place children with LGBTQ families and for doctors to refuse treatment to LGBTQ people and their children. It also takes away protections that cities including Jackson, the state’s biggest city, had previously afforded to LGBTQ residents.
The Christian Conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom represents both Phillips and the state of Mississippi in the two cases. Their lawyer Kevin Theriot claims:
”Good laws like Mississippi’s protect freedom and harm no one.”
Yeah, it won’t hurt anyone. Unless they are L, G, B, T or Q, but I guess they don’t see LGBTQs as being people.