Judge blocks Mississippi ‘religious freedom’ law

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JACKSON, Miss. — A federal judge blocked a Mississippi law that would have allowed clerks and businesses to cite religious objections to same-sex marriages before it was scheduled to go into effect, ruling it unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves struck down House Bill 1523 in its entirety Thursday (June 30).

In his 60-page ruling, Reeves wrote that HB1523 “violates both the guarantee of religious neutrality and the promise of equal protection of the laws” and was therefore unconstitutional.

Reeves wrote that the title, text and history of the law show it is “the state’s attempt to put LGBT citizens back in their place” in response to last summer’s Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage nationwide.

“In physics, every action has its equal and opposite reaction,” he wrote. “In politics, every action has its predictable overreaction.”

The order came days after Reeves disabled part of the bill Monday, when he issued an injunction barring Mississippi from denying same-sex marriage licenses.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed the bill into law in April. The bill also specified that “the sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions protected by this act are the belief or conviction that: (a) Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman; (b) Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage; and (c) Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.”

“The state has put its thumb on the scale to favor some religious beliefs over others,” Reeves wrote.

Attorneys for the state are expected to appeal the decision.

— by Royce Swayze | USA Today Network | RNS

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