Judge blocks HB 1523 from starting July 1

Judge blocks HB 1523 from starting July 1

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - A U.S. district judge has issued a ruling striking down Mississippi's Religious Accommodations Act. Judge Carlton Reeves issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the controversial law from going into effect July 1.

"Religious freedom was one of the building blocks of this great nation, and after the nation was torn apart, the guarantee of equal protection under law was used to stitch it back together," wrote Judge Reeves in federal documents filed Thursday. "But HB 1523 does not honor that tradition of religion freedom, nor does it respect the equal dignity of all of Mississippi's citizens. It must be enjoined. The motions are granted."

House Bill 1523 would allow private businesses to refuse service to the LGBT community based off of their religious background and beliefs.

Thursday's ruling striking down the entirety of the bill came on the heels of a ruling from this past Monday in which Judge Reeves said that Mississippi clerks cannot deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples, based on their own religious beliefs. In his ruling, he said clerks must provide equal treatment for all couples, regardless of their sexual orientation.

"In striking down HB 1523, the Court enforced the fundamental constitutional principle that the government cannot establish any religion. As a result, Mississippi will no longer be permitted to favor some 'religious beliefs' over others, and the civil rights of LGBT Mississippians will not be subordinated to the religious beliefs of only certain religious groups," said Roberta Kaplan, lead counsel for the Campaign for Southern Equality.

The initial lawsuit against House Bill 1523, filed by twelve Mississippians and a Hattiesburg church, is known as Barber v. Bryant. The other case, filed a week after the Barber case, is known as Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant.

"As a member of the LGBT community and as minister of the Gospel, I am thankful that justice prevailed," said Rev. Susan Hrostowski, an Episcopal priest who is a plaintiff in the case and resident of Hattiesburg.

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