A Federal Judge Just Blocked Mississippi's Anti-LGBT Religious Exemption Law

Source: AP

On Thursday night, United States District Court Judge Carlton Reeves thwarted HB 1523, the bill Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law in April, which granted religious organizations, private businesses and some state government employees the right to deny services to the LGBTQ community based on their beliefs.

According to BuzzFeed News, Reeves killed the law just hours before it was set to go into effect on Friday, saying that it violated "religious neutrality and the promise of equal protection of the laws."

"The majority of Mississippians were granted special rights to not serve LGBT citizens, and were immunized from the consequences of their actions," wrote Reeves in court documents

"LGBT Mississippians, in turn, were 'put in a solitary class with respect to transactions and relations in both the private and governmental spheres' to symbolize their second-class status."

Reeves wrote that the law constituted "state-sanctioned discrimination."

A May rally protesting Mississippi's anti-LGBT law
Source: 
James Patterson/AP

Reeves' decision was a huge victory for the LGBTQ community and its allies and advocates, who called for the law's repeal at protests in May. They had attacked the bill from all sides, with nonprofit organization Plant for Peace purchasing billboard space to broadcast their message showing Jesus saying, "Guys, I said I hate figs and to love thy neighbor." Days later FunnyorDie.com skewered Mississippi legislators with a fake tourist ad declaring, "Come to Mississippi — we're even worse than North Carolina!" 

Under the law, Mississippi's equivalents to Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis would have been well within their rights to refuse services to LGBTQ people.

Read more:
Meet Judge Ruth Kneely, Wyoming's Very Own Kim Davis 
UK Warns Travelers to US About Anti-LGBT Laws in North Carolina and Mississippi 
Obama's Directive on Transgender Restrooms Reflects His Lasting Legacy on LGBT Rights 

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Marie Solis

Marie is a Slay staff writer with focuses in culture and class. Her writing has appeared in Gothamist and the Awl. You can reach her at marie@mic.com.

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