/Gov Bryant appeals HB 1523 ruling alone, breaking with other defendants

Gov Bryant appeals HB 1523 ruling alone, breaking with other defendants

The Attorney General Jim Hood stated publicly earlier that he was still uncertain if he would appeal the decision. Hood, along with two other state officials, Judy Moulder (registrar of vital documents) and Richard Berry (executive director of the department for human services), are defendants. The governor appealed, arguing that plaintiffs hadn’t shown harm by a bill that was intended to protect Mississippians from being “forced or pressured” to do so. He also named Judy Moulder, the registrar of vital records, and Richard Berry, the executive director of the department of human services. Gov. Bryant states in his appeal. Bryant also requested a stay of the preliminary order, which would allow the law to take effect until the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rules. An attorney representing the plaintiffs said that the court would not grant a stay to a law that hasn’t yet been in effect. “The court almost always considers what the status quo is here. The status quo here, and it has been for forever now, is not HB 1523,” Roberta Kaplan, the lead attorney for plaintiffs in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant III (one of two lawsuits ruled upon by U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves last Wednesday). “So we are confident that it won’t be stayed.” House Bill 15, which was signed into law by Gov. Bryant signed House Bill 1523 into law in April. It singles out three “sincerely held” religious beliefs that are worthy of protection. These include the belief that marriage is between one man, one woman, and that no one should have sex with anyone other than such marriages. Anyone who rejects marriage-related services due to these beliefs would be protected from lawsuits. Opponents claim that this discriminates against gay, lesbian, and transgender people. Four lawsuits have been filed since then against House Bill 1523. In May, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a first injunction to prevent the law’s implementation on July 1. Judge Carlton Reeves denied the request. He was the one who supervised all cases against House Bill 15.23. He said that the plaintiffs had not proven they were in immediate danger. In a second decision, Judge Reeves stated that he would nullify the section of the bill that allowed clerks not to issue marriage licenses to identical-sex couples. Although he has indicated that he would appeal the decision, as of Thursday, no appeal had been filed. The ruling did not touch on any other aspects of the law, except the one pertaining to clerks. Private business owners such as caterers and other state officials such as counselors in public schools were still permitted to refuse to provide marriage-related services for gay and lesbian Mississippians. Governor Bryant’s decision to revoke marriage-related services to gay and lesbian Mississippians was a victory. Bryant appealed, but House Bill 1523 was invalidated in its entirety. Barber v. Bryant III and Campaign for Southern Equality III were the two lawsuits that it addressed. They argued the law violated both the Establishment Clause and the Equal Protection Clause. These laws prohibit the government from favoring one religion or one group of citizens over the other. Hood expressed doubts over the law’s merits and asked whether the law was motivated by political freedom or religious freedom. Hood stated that he believed the “churchgoing public” was deceived into believing that HB1523 protected religious freedoms in a statement released after Judge Reeves’ ruling. Hood also said that it had affected his ability to defend other cases. “So that’s really an explosion. And I think House Bill1523 was one of those.” Kaplan stated she expected the governor would appeal. Kaplan stated that clients were disappointed, but not surprised by the governor’s decision to take this step. They want to live in dignity and peace without the humbling insults and stigmas of HB 1523. They will continue to fight the fight, but they feel it’s a shame that it must be continued.” Drew Snyder, an attorney at the governor’s offices, filed the appeal for Gov. Bryant’s behalf. Monday’s announcement by the Governor’s Office confirmed that Jonathan Mitchell of the James Otis Law Group, St. Louis, was representing Bryant pro bono. They filed a motion to the Fifth Circuit to speed up the appeal and request a stay. To support this important work, you can make a regular donation to us today as part of the Spring Member Drive. Our reporters give a human face to policy’s impact on everyday Mississippians by listening more closely and understanding their communities. To ensure that our work is aligned with the priorities and needs of Mississippians, we are listening to you. Click the button below to let us know what you think. This Story
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