(Baptist Press) A bill that would have safeguarded the religious liberty of individuals and organizations who refuse to participate in same-sex weddings or gender identity transitions was stuck down by a U.S. district judge Thursday night (June 30), hours before the bill was slated to take effect July 1.
The law "does not advance the interest the State says it does," Judge Carlton Reeves wrote in his 60-page ruling, which issued a preliminary injunction against the measure. "Under the guise of providing additional protection for religious exercise, it creates a vehicle for state-sanctioned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. It is not rationally related to a legitimate end."
The injunction took effect immediately and will become permanent if upheld on appeal.
Advertisement - story continues below
Reeves, appointed by President Obama in 2010, said the legislation, known as House Bill 1523, established preferred religious beliefs, violating the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The proposed bill sent a message to Mississippians who did not support it that "they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are inside, favored members," wrote Reeves, who added that the bill's "broad religious exemption comes at the expense of other citizens."