HB 1523 protesters outside Mississippi Governor's Mansion. Photo via, video screenshot

HB 1523 protesters outside Mississippi Governor’s Mansion.
Photo via, video screenshot

The House Bill 1523 is a highly restrictive law.

Mississippi attorneys filed papers on July 6, requesting the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to block a state law which permits government officials and merchants to cite their religious beliefs when they wish to deny their services toward couples of the same sex. As per legal experts, the said law is the widest law throwing a shadow over religious objections since the Supreme Court in the United States legalized marriage between same sexes all over the United States in 2015.

The law was championed and subsequently signed into existence by Governor Phil Bryant of the GOP in 2016. The law protects three beliefs: marriage can only happen between a woman and a man, sex can happen only between a woman and a man, and the gender of any person is fixed at birth. Attorneys representing the gay plaintiffs said through court papers HB 1523 effectively ostracizes gay individuals.

A federal judge blocked the law from coming into effect in 2016. It was judged to be unconstitutional as it provided undue favor to specific beliefs. It also permitted unequal treatment to be meted out against LGBTQ people. In June, the 5th Circuit canceled this ruling, citing that the plaintiffs were unable to prove they faced discrimination by such a law. The court thus deemed the order as not standing. Susan Sommer of Lambda Legal said, “The panel’s decision to reverse the district court ruling begs the question of who gets to challenge laws in court and when. LGBT Mississippians should not have to endure even more profound discrimination before they can ask the court for help.”

Sommer pointed out the House Bill 1523 by Mississippi state is a “discriminatory law packaged in religious clothes.” The tranche of anti-LGBT laws coming into force in a number of states like Texas and North Carolina are in direct opposition to the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court for transgender rights and marriage equality. Adding, “same-sex couples are entitled to full marriage rights, not the half-baked rights on offer under HB 1523.”

It is clear the GOP are trying their utmost to undermine LGBTQ people from exercising their constitutional rights. To add to the problem, Justice Neil Gorsuch of the U.S. Supreme Court, and a President Trump appointee is against a pro-LGBTQ solution. 

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