Supreme Court Denies Review in Cases Challenging Anti-LGBTQ Mississippi Law

By Shane Stahl • January 8, 2018 • 9:44 am

The United States Supreme Court has announced that it will not grant review in two cases, Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant and Bryant v. Barber, both challenging Mississippi’s notoriously anti-LGBTQ law, also known as HB 1523, which was passed in April of 2016.

HB 1523 allows Mississippi officials, state employees, and private individuals claiming religious beliefs to deny LGBTQ people a wide array of services. The bill cites three specific beliefs that are allowed an exemption:

  • That marriage can only be between a man and a woman
  • That sexual intercourse is properly reserved to such a marriage
  • Sex is an immutable characteristic assigned at birth that cannot change

After the law was signed by Governor Phil Bryant, plaintiffs represented separately by Roberta A. Kaplan and Lambda Legal filed suit. On June 27, Judge Carlton W. Reeves entered a permanent injunction blocking the bill’s provision allowing county clerks to deny marriage licenses to same sex couples. Reeves issued a more far reaching injunction on June 20, blocking the law as a whole from going into effect.

Although the state’s Attorney General, Jim Hood, announced he would not fight the judge’s ruling, Bryant retained the services of a private law firm to continue an appeal. On June 22, 2017, a three judge panel for 5th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the plaintiffs in the Barber case lacked legal standing, thereby reversing the earlier injunction. On October 10, the law went into effect.

The plaintiffs in Barber filed a request for an en banc hearing from the 5th Circuit soon after, they were denied on September 29. Legal teams for both cases then filed petitions to the U.S. Supreme Court for review, which occurred on Friday, January 5.

With HB 1523 still in effect, LGBTQ Mississippians and their families are hurting every day, denied the necessary protections to make them feel safe and welcome in the Magnolia State. However, this is not the end of the line. We thank the legal organizations working toward resolution in these and other cases, and we remain confident that when judges stop and examine the discriminatory nature of the HB1523 law, it will be overturned. 

Freedom For All Americans will continue to follow the case and post updates as they come. To follow movement on other cases regarding LGBTQ discrimination, click here to view our Litigation Tracker.

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