A federal judge has blocked Mississippi’s anti-LGBTI law HB 1523 from going into effect.
US District Judge Carlton Reeves made the ruling late Thursday (30 June).
This was one day before the law, known as the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, was due to officially begin being practiced in Mississippi.
The law effectively gave license to anyone to discriminate against LGBTI people including organizations and businesses based on ‘sincerely held’ religious or moral beliefs.
It also included a portion that would have forced transgender people in Mississippi to use bathrooms corresponding with the gender of their birth instead of their gender identity.
Reeves had struck down the bathroom portion of the law earlier this week.
The judge wrote that HB 1523 ‘violates both the guarantee of religious neutrality and the promise of equal protection of the laws’ and that ‘the deprivation of equal protection of the laws is HB 1523’s very essence.’
‘Under the guise of providing additional protection for religious exercise, it creates a vehicle for state-sanctioned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,’ Reeves also wrote. ‘It is not rationally related to a legitimate end.’
The Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTI civil rights organization in the US, applauded the ruling and says it is continuing to fight for full repeal of the law.
‘This legislation was rooted in hate, it targeted the LGBTQ community and it was a deliberate attempt to undermine marriage equality and the dignity of LGBTQ Mississippians who lawmakers have sworn to serve and protect,’ HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement.
Roberta Kaplan, lead counsel for the Campaign for Southern Equality which filed the lawsuit that led to the judge’s ruling, cited something Thomas Jefferson wrote more than 200 years ago in reacting to the decision: ‘One of the founding principles of our nation is that civil rights should have no dependence on anyone’s religious opinions.’
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