News

Attorneys defend Mississippi law on denying LGBT services

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Print this page Email A Friend!


MISSISSIPPI, USA (AP) — Attorneys for Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant are defending a state law that lets Government workers and private business people cite religious beliefs to deny services to LGBT people.

In arguments filed Monday to the US Supreme Court, they wrote that the law protects people from being penalised for refusing to participate in activities they consider “immoral”, such as same-sex marriage.

Legal experts say the 2016 Mississippi law is the broadest religious-objections law enacted by any state since the high court legalised same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015.

The law took effect last month amid multiple court challenges. It protects three beliefs: that marriage is only between a man and a woman, that sex should only occur in such a marriage and that a person's gender is determined at birth and cannot be altered.

An Arizona-based Christian group, Alliance Defending Freedom, helped write the Mississippi law. The alliance's Kevin Theriot (TAIR-ee-oh) was one of three attorneys who wrote the arguments submitted to the Supreme Court on behalf of Republican Bryant.

“Until recently, there was no need for the law to protect the conscientious scruples of those who oppose same-sex marriage,” the attorneys for the governor wrote. “That is because it was unthinkable — until recently — that government officials might coerce private citizens into participating in same-sex marriage ceremonies, or penalise them for their refusal to do so. But state and local governments have been taking action against Christians who decline to participate in these ceremonies on account of their religious beliefs.”

Gay and straight Mississippi residents filed multiple lawsuits challenging the law, and US District Judge Carlton Reeves blocked it from taking effect when it was supposed to in July 2016. He ruled that it unconstitutionally establishes preferred beliefs and creates unequal treatment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

A panel of judges from the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the hold on the law this year, saying people who sued the state had failed to show they would be harmed. The law took effect Oct 10, and an appeal was quickly filed to the Supreme Court.

The law allows clerks to cite religious objections to recuse themselves from issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples, and protects merchants who refuse services to LGBT people. It could affect adoptions and foster care, business practices and school bathroom policies. Opponents say it also allows pharmacies to refuse to fill birth control prescriptions for unmarried women.

ADVERTISEMENT




POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT

Poll

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT