A 2016 Mississippi law providing religious accommodations for government employees and private business owners will take effect Friday despite pending legal challenges. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday denied a request for an en banc, full court hearing to keep an injunction against the law in place.
Attorneys representing gay rights advocates call the law discriminatory and insist they will appeal the two cases, Barber v. Bryant and Campaign for Southern Equity v. Bryant, to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The new law declares, “The state government shall not take any discriminatory action” against persons who act in accordance with certain beliefs: Marriage is a union of only one man and one woman, sexual relations should be reserved for marriage, and biological sex is immutable.
Legislators intended the law to protect Mississippians involved in the wedding industry—whether private business owners or government employees—from government sanctions for refusing to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies.
Gay rights advocates immediately challenged the law, and a federal judge placed an injunction on its application. A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit overturned the injunction in June, and the court denied the appeal to the full panel on Friday. —B.P.
D. James Kennedy Ministries of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., withdrew two complaints against GuideStar, a database of U.S. charities, in its ongoing defamation lawsuit against the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). In its response to the lawsuit, GuideStar demonstrated it did not “act as a conduit” in disseminating the allegedly libelous information, an attorney for the ministry told me.
The lawsuit, Coral Ridge Ministries Media v. Amazon, filed Aug. 23, alleges SPLC’s “hate group” label for organizations that promote a Biblical view of human sexuality is libelous and has caused financial harm to the Florida-based ministry. The suit named GuideStar, Amazon, and Amazon Smile as co-defendants for perpetuating the “hate group” label. The SPLC has moved to dismiss the case, claiming the ministry has no valid claim against it. —B.P.