Mississippi Sued For The Third Time Over Gay Marriage Law

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Amber Randall Civil Rights Reporter
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A group of transgender, gay and straight people filed a third federal lawsuit Friday challenging the Mississippi law that lets religious leaders refuse to issue same sex marriage licenses to gay couples, according to the Associated Press.

The lawsuit claimed, “the endorsement and special protection of those beliefs and convictions conveys a state-sponsored message of disapproval and hostility to those who do not share those beliefs and convictions, including the plaintiffs and many other Mississippians, and indicates that their status is disfavored in the social and political community of their own home state.”

House Bill 1523, signed by Republican Gov. Phil Bryant in April, protects people whose religion defines marriage as a union between a man and woman, that sex should only occur inside of marriage, and that a person’s gender is determined at birth.

Two other lawsuits were previously filed against Mississippi. The American Civil Liberties Union and a gay couple filed one in May on the grounds that HB 1523 violates equal protection. While a lawsuit filed by the Campaign for Southern Equality and two lesbian couples, which was integral to overthrowing the Mississippi ban on gay marriage, will be reopened.

The three lawsuits are fighting to stop HB 1523 from becoming law July 1. The people who filed the suits also want the bill to be labeled unconstitutional.

“By endorsing these particular religious beliefs that are held by some but not by others, the state not only has acted contrary to the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount — Do unto others as you would have them do unto you — but has enacted a law that is blatantly unconstitutional,” Rob McDuff, an attorney who helped file the suit, said.

The Family Research Council awarded Bryant the Samuel Adams Religious Freedom Award May 26 for signing the bill and the 2014 Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

“A federal judge recently ruled that a female that is in the United States military cannot shackle or escort one of those prisoners. He said we must provide religious accommodations to terrorists at Guantanamo Bay.” Bryant said in his acceptance speech. “But, for heaven’s sakes, not the businessmen and women of Mississippi. That’s gone too far.”

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