The Associated Press reports:
A federal appeals court says Mississippi can start enforcing a law that will let merchants and government employees cite religious beliefs to deny services to same-sex couples. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday reversed a judge’s decision that had blocked the law before it could take effect last July.
U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves had ruled that the law unconstitutionally establishes preferred beliefs and creates unequal treatment for LGBT people. Republican Gov. Phil Bryant and other supporters say the law protects beliefs that marriage can be between only a man and a woman, and that a person’s gender is determined at birth and cannot be changed.
Via press release from Lambda Legal:
Today, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the injunction against Mississippi House Bill 1523, the discriminatory anti-LGBT legislation challenged in Barber v. Bryant, the federal lawsuit brought by Mississippi civil rights attorney Robert McDuff, the Mississippi Center for Justice and Lambda Legal. The advocates will continue to fight this discriminatory law.
Overruling the lower court decision, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit denied that LGBT Mississippians are subject to imminent discrimination by HB 1523 and ordered the block to the law lifted because the plaintiffs—a group of ministers, LGBT residents, community leaders and activists—lack standing since they cannot claim a specific harm caused by the law that has yet to go into effect.
“We had to put guards in front of our church after the bill initially passed because there was a truck with a swastika parked across the street and just this week the Christian Knights of the KKK distributed flyers throughout the Hattiesburg area. Today’s ruling leaves us more exposed, so we will have to be more vigilant than ever before to protect our church, our families and our dignity,” said Brandiilyne Mangum-Dear, Barber plaintiff.
Led by Texas AG Ken Paxton, nine states had filed a brief in support of Mississippi’s law.