Today, HRC lauded U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves’ decision to block a provision of Mississippi’s discriminatory and harmful H.B. 1523 that would allow county clerks to deny same-sex couples from obtaining marriage licenses. The bill, deceptively titled “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act,” enables almost any individual or organization to discriminate against LGBTQ Mississippians at work, at school and in their communities. The remainder of the harmful law will go into effect on July 1, and HRC will continue to push for the full repeal of the entirety of H.B. 1523. The ruling comes in a case litigated by Roberta Kaplan, the civil rights lawyer who argued in front of the Supreme Court of the United States in the landmark case United States v. Windsor.
“We are glad to see that Judge Carlton Reeves has struck down a key portion of H.B. 1523 that would have allowed clerks to invoke their personal beliefs to deny a loving, same-sex couple from getting a marriage license,” said Rob Hill, Mississippi state director for the Human Rights Campaign. “This law is not what we want for our state -- as thousands of Mississippians have shown for months -- and we will keep our focus on a full repeal of the law, so that no LGBTQ Mississippians have to live in a state that gives legal power to discrimination and hatred.”
“Exactly one year and one day after the Supreme Court guaranteed marriage equality in Obergefell, we are delighted that Judge Reeves reaffirmed the power of federal courts to definitively say what the United States Constitution means, recognizing that the issue of gay and lesbian Mississippians' right to marry on equal terms as other couples ‘will not be adjudicated anew after every . . . session’ of the Mississippi Legislature,” said Roberta Kaplan, counsel in the case. “We remain confident that Judge Reeves will rule in favor of the gay and lesbian couples we are proud to represent in connection with our Establishment Clause claims in CSE III, and will do so very soon.”
For months, HRC -- alongside representatives from faith communities and civil rights organizations -- has hosted several rallies against the bill outside Gov. Phil Bryant’s residence and across the state protesting the law and its implementation. Read more about the law here.
In 2014, HRC launched Project One America, an initiative geared towards advancing social, institutional and legal equality in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas. HRC Mississippi continues to work to advance equality for LGBTQ Mississippians who have no state level protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations. Through HRC Mississippi, we are working toward a future of fairness every day -- changing hearts, minds and laws toward achieving full equality.