By Neely Tucker
U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves late Thursday night issued an injunction blocking a bill by the Mississippi legislature that would have allowed private citizens and some public officials professing a “sincere religious belief” to deny services to gays and lesbians.
Just minutes before House Bill 1523 was to take effect at midnight, Reeves eviscerated the bill — the most sweeping attempt by a state to undermine the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision to legalize same-sex marriage — as being in violation of the First and 14th amendments.
“The State has put its thumb on the scale to favor some religious beliefs over others. Showing such favor tells ‘nonadherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and . . . adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community,’ ” Reeves wrote, citing precedent. “And the Equal Protection Clause is violated by HB 1523’s authorization of arbitrary discrimination against lesbian, gay, transgender, and unmarried persons.”
“The plaintiffs’ motions are granted and HB 1523 is preliminarily enjoined.”
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