A district judge granted a preliminary injunction that bars the state from enforcing Mississippi’s HB 1523, which was set to go into effect July 1. HB 1523 would allow a range of individuals, corporations, healthcare providers, and nonprofit organizations—including those that receive taxpayer funding to perform social services—to refuse to provide goods and services to same-sex couples, single mothers, divorcees, or anyone who has had sex outside of marriage. Americans United has opposed HB 1523 since it was introduced in February.
The plaintiffs, many of whom are faith leaders and members of the LGBT community, argued in part that HB 1523 violates the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution by advancing one religious view over others, negatively impacting those who do not follow such religious beliefs.
"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," Judge Carlton W. Reeves said in his opinion. "But HB 1523 does not honor that tradition of religion freedom, nor does it respect the equal dignity of all of Mississippi’s citizens."
This decision is great news for marriage equality and real religious freedom. Religious freedom is a fundamental American value that means you have the right to believe—or not—as you see fit. It does not mean that you can use your religion to discriminate against others, including discriminating against them because of who they chose to marry.
Americans United will continue to fight against laws like HB 1523, which use religion to trump non-discrimination laws. Should you or someone you know experience discrimination when seeking to obtain a marriage license or otherwise experience religiously motivated discrimination when attempting to purchase goods and services, please contact Americans United at firstname.lastname@example.org.