Appeals Court to Rule on Mississippi LGBT Law

A federal appeals court will begin hearing arguments about a Mississippi law that would allow government employees and businesses to deny services to same-sex couples if it goes against their religious beliefs.

Mississippi’s American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says House Bill 1523 is one of the worst LGBT discrimination bills in the country.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Lubbock, Texas will hear arguments about the law. The argument will be heard by a panel of three judges.

The case comes after Governor Phil Bryant’s appeal of a federal judge’s decision that HB 1523 is unconstitutional.

In June, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves said the bill does not honor religious freedom.

Bryant was forced to use private attorneys to appeal the decision, as Attorney General Jim Hood would not appeal.

The law, championed by the governor, defines marriage as being between a man and a woman; states that sex should only take place in a marriage; and states that a person’s gender cannot be altered and is determined at birth.

“This is a good law that was democratically enacted and is perfectly constitutional,” said Bryant. “The people of Mississippi have the right to ensure that all of our citizens are free to peacefully live and work without fear of being punished for their sincerely held beliefs.”

Under the law, clerks would be permitted to recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses to LGBT couples due to their religious beliefs. The law would also allow merchants to refuse services to LGBT citing religious objections.

ACLU has stressed that Mississippi is not the first state to enact such a law. Thus far in 2017, 30 states proposed 121 anti-LBGTQ bills, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Mississippi was the only state to enact a law that lists specific beliefs to be protected.