Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is reporting on the decision, handed down on Monday, that will allow the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act (HB 1523) to go into effect. It was blocked by activist groups who sued, claiming that the law would allow discrimination against same-sex marriage supporters.
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed HB 1523 into law which is aimed at protecting citizens, public servants, businesses, and religious institutions from government reprisal for operating publicly according to their belief that marriage is reserved for one man and one woman. It also protects the belief that sex should only take place inside a marriage between a man and a woman and that a person’s gender is decided at birth and cannot be changed.
The bill was overwhelmingly popular in the state at the time of its passage in April 2016, but a federal district court stopped enforcement shortly thereafter.
The case made its way to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals which concluded last June that since “the plaintiffs do not have standing, we reverse the injunction and render a judgment of dismissal…. Because the challengers have failed to provide sufficient evidence of an injury-in-fact from HB 1523…, they have not made a clear showing of standing.”
“Good laws like Mississippi’s protect freedom and harm no one,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “The 5th Circuit was right to find that those opposing this law haven’t been harmed and, therefore, can’t try to take it down. Because of that, we are pleased that the Supreme Court declined to take up these baseless challenges, which misrepresented the law’s sole purpose of ensuring that Mississippians don’t live in fear of losing their careers or their businesses simply for affirming marriage as a husband-wife union.”
Activists are not pleased with the decision.
"While the right to one's religious belief is fundamental, a license to discriminate is not," said Jennifer Riley Collins, the executive director for the ACLU of Mississippi, according to CBN News. "Same-sex couples deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect as anyone else."
They could still employ the same strategy used in so many other states where same-sex couples deliberately target Christian-owned bakeries or photographers with the hope that they will be denied services for their weddings, thus opening the door to lawsuits.
This is why the case involving the Christian-owned Masterpiece Bakeshop in Colorado, recently heard in the Supreme Court, is so important. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the bakeshop, it will shut down a host of cases around the country where Christians are being unfairly targeted by same-sex couples who, in most cases, could easily procure wedding services elsewhere. A decision is expected in June.
"This case is an example of legal activists, who are unable to modify laws democratically, trying to use the courts to achieve their ideological goals," Travis Weber, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council, told CBN News in a statement.
"We are grateful that the Supreme Court, in declining to disturb the good ruling from the 5th Circuit in this case, affirmed that such activism must be held in check," he continued. "Just because its opponents disagree with HB 1523 doesn't mean they can hijack the judicial process to overturn it."
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