A federal judge overturned Thursday a Mississippi law protecting Christians from having to take part in same-sex weddings.
U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves struck down the Mississippi law, saying in his 60 page opinion that the law was “state sanctioned discrimination,” reports Fox 6 Now. The Mississippi law would have taken effect Friday and prevented Christians from facing legal trouble if they refused business on the basis of their religious beliefs.
The law, referred to as House Bill 1523, allowed doctors to refuse to perform transgender surgeries or other medical procedures related to them. Private businesses could refuse to hire a gay person; a religious organization could decide not to help to let gay couples through the adoption process. Under the law, court clerks are allowed to not give same sex couples a marriage license, as long as they provided an alternative way for the couples to get their marriage licenses, reports the New York Times.
In his ruling, Reeves stated that the law violated the Establishment Clause because it created “special rights” for people who did not agree with the gay or transgender lifestyle. He said that the state was favoring one religion over another, because people who did not have the same beliefs were not protected as well.
“That violates both the guarantee of religious neutrality and the promise of equal protection of the laws,” Reeves wrote.
Lawyers for the state argued that the law did not affect gays or transgenders and did not grant more protection to one religion over another. Mississippi governor Phil Bryant said that the law helped to protect Christians like himself.
“The law simply provides religious accommodations granted by many other states and federal law. I am disappointed Judge Reeves did not reorganize that reality. I look forward to an aggressive appeal.” Bryant said in a statement.
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