ACLU sues Mississippi over law protecting freedom of religion, conscience
by Samantha Gobba
Posted 5/10/16, 03:00 pm
A Mississippi law set to take effect July 1 to protect business owners who believe marriage should be between one man and one woman is now under attack from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The ACLU filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of gay couple Nykolas Alford and Stephen Thomas seeking to block House Bill 1523.
Last month, hundreds of protesters stood outside the Governor’s Mansion with signs such as “No Hate In My State” while Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed the bill into law. He said at the time the new law would “protect sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions.”
Under the law, wedding-related business owners would be shielded from “discriminatory action” against them for acting in accordance with their convictions that marriage is between one man and one woman, that sex is reserved for marriage, and that gender is a biological, immutable physical characteristic.
In a statement Monday, ACLU attorney Josh Block called the law “anti-LGBT and unconstitutional.”
“We won’t rest until every last piece of this law is struck down and all LGBT people in Mississippi have equal justice under the law,” he said.
Standing outside the Jackson, Miss., courthouse, Alford and Thomas compared their actions to the 1960s civil rights movement.
When a reporter asked Alford to expound on his earlier statement that the law made him feel like a second-class citizen, he responded, “That’s also being black and gay.”
“Our grandparents experienced discrimination for being black, and my parents probably did as well,” he said. “My parents were born in the ’60s and grew up in the ’70s and ’80s, and so it’s always been a part of our lives. We thought this movement was over, you know? We thought that we would be fine. We thought that we would be equal, and here we are today saying that we’re not, and we want equality.”
The ACLU is suing Judy Moulder, Mississippi state registrar of vital records, and seeks a court injunction to bar her from enforcing the law.
Bryant responded by denouncing the lawsuit.
“The ACLU continues its mission of trying to use the federal court system to push its liberal agenda,” Bryant said in a statement. “Instead of cherry-picking causes popular with the radical left, the ACLU should allocate its resources defending all civil liberties.”
Samantha reports on the pro-life movement for WORLD Digital.