US: Court denies rehearing, clears HB 1523 to take effect

The federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has refused a rehearing by the full court on a lawsuit attempting to block Mississippistate House Bill 1523, a religious objections bill that opponents say codifies discrimination against LGBT people.

Pending further challenge, the ruling will allow the bill to take effect Friday.

The bill, supporters say, protects people who act on the beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman, that sexual relations are properly confined to such a marriage and that male and female refers to an individual's biological sex at birth. It was passed in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that legalized gay marriage nationwide.

The bill, the "Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act" passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Phil Bryant in 2016, has been on hold from a ruling by federal District Judge Carlton Reeves that it unconstitutionally privileges people who hold three particular religious beliefs, in violation of the First Amendment.

A three-judge panel of the appellate court had ruled the plaintiffs, Campaign for Southern Equality, lacked standing to bring the challenge. The full court declined to rehear the case. Read more via Clarion-Ledger