Judge Strikes Down Mississippi’s Anti-LGBT HB1523 Minutes Before It Was to Take Effect

By Adam Polaski • July 1, 2016 • 1:01 am

Late on June 30 – minutes before the clock struck midnight and the law would have officially taken effect – U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves ruled against House Bill 1523, the anti-LGBT law passed earlier this year by the state of Mississippi. The law is now prohibited from taking effect as it was scheduled to today, July 1.


The decision was in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant I, brought by our friends at the Campaign for Southern Equality, an LGBT organization advocating for equality across the South. Earlier this week, Judge Reeves ruled in a separate opinion that a provision in HB1523 allowing clerks to recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses violated a 2014 order granting the freedom to marry to same-sex couples.

Read the full opinion here.

HB1523 sought to allow businesses and individuals to cite their religious beliefs as an excuse to discriminate against same-sex couples, transgender people, or unmarried people who have sex.

Judge Reeves wrote in his opinion:

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. But HB 1523 does not honor that tradition of religion freedom, nor does it respect the equal dignity of all of Mississippi’s citizens.

It is hereby ordered that the defendants; their officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys; and any other persons who are in active concert or participation with the defendants or their officers, agents, servants, employees, or attorneys; are hereby preliminarily enjoined from enacting or enforcing HB 1523.

Roberta Kaplan, lead counsel for the Campaign for Southern Equality case, said:

In striking down HB 1523, the Court enforced the fundamental constitutional principle that the government cannot establish any religion. As a result, Mississippi will no longer be permitted to favor some ‘religious beliefs’ over others, and the civil rights of LGBT Mississippians will not be subordinated to the religious beliefs of only certain religious groups.

Congratulations to the Campaign for Southern Equality – and thank you to all of the legal organizations who have been working hard in the court of law to bring down HB1523! This is a great ruling – and a great day for the many members of the LGBT community who have been so hurt by the discriminatory law. We hope that Governor Bryant and other elected officials in Mississippi see the damage that HB1523 would have caused and allow this law to rest where it belongs – in the garbage bin.

Freedom for All Americans is proud to stand with our legal partners in the work to educate Americans about the need for LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination – and the harms of anti-LGBT laws like HB1523.

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