Mississippi Governor And Religious Right Group Fighting To Enforce "Religious Liberty" Law

  Image by Getty Images

Image by Getty Images

A U.S. District Court judge recently barred Mississippi from enforcing its "religious liberty” law because it violates the U.S. Constitution, but Governor Phil Bryant and the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) just won't give up.

Earlier this month, Judge Carlton W. Reeves issued a blistering 60-page opinion finding Mississippi’s HB 1523—a law that authorizes discrimination under the guise of “religious liberty”— dishonors the nation’s “tradition of religio[us] freedom” and does not “respect the equal dignity of Mississippi’s citizens.”

Shortly thereafter, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood announced he would not appeal the decision because it would simply waste taxpayer dollars: “to appeal HB 1523 and fight for an empty bill that dupes one segment of our population into believing it has merit while discriminating against another is just plain wrong.”

That, however, has not stopped Governor Phil Bryant and John Davis, executive director of Mississippi’s Department of Human Services, from proceeding with an appeal anyway. Represented by their own counsel, they are asking the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay of the district court’s preliminary injunction pending review—in other words, they are claiming that the law should go into effect while the case is on appeal because the state of Mississippi will be harmed if it has to wait longer before it can authorize discrimination. Not surprisingly, ADF, which helped draft HB 1523, will serve as co-counsel for Governor Bryant and Mr. Davis.

Despite ever-mounting losses in the courts and widespread backlash, it seems many state officials—aided by extreme groups like ADF—will continue to fight for government-sanctioned discrimination in the name of religion.

As we have for the past year at Protect Thy Neighbor, we will continue to do everything we can—both in the courtroom and in state legislatures—to fight legislation that harms our neighbors.