Nation’s most sweeping anti-LGBT law headed to Federal Court in Mississippi week of June 20th
Jackson, Miss. (June 20, 2016) – The nation’s most sweeping anti-LGBT law, HB 1523, is headed to federal court in Jackson, Mississippi this week for a series of hearings before U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves. Passed this spring, HB 1523 enables Mississippi officials and service providers such as doctors to recuse themselves from serving LGBT individuals on the basis of “sincerely held” religious beliefs. The law is scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2016.
On Monday, June 20 at 9:30 a.m. Judge Reeves will hold oral arguments on whether to reopen Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant to address a provision of HB 1523 that allows public officials to recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
On Thursday, June 23, Judge Reeves will hold evidentiary hearings in two cases challenging the entirety of HB 1523 on First Amendment grounds. The full complaint in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant III can be read at: http://www.southernequality.org/new-complaint-hb-1523/
Lead counsel in this challenge is Roberta Kaplan of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, who is joined by attorney Allyson Mills of Fishman Haygood. Kaplan also filed the federal case that struck down Mississippi’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples in 2014, Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant, as well as the legal challenge that struck down Mississippi’s ban on same-sex adoption, Campaign for Southern Equality v. Mississippi Department of Human Services in 2016.
The other case that will be heard on Thursday, Barber v. Bryant, was filed earlier this month by attorney Robert McDuff of McDuff & Byrd and the Mississippi Center for Justice. Plaintiffs in this case include a group of Mississippi clergy, community leaders from across the state, and a Hattiesburg-area church.
Judge Reeves has previously heard a legal challenge from the Campaign for Southern Equality, striking down Mississippi’s ban on same-sex marriage on November 25, 2014 in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant. The full 72-page order striking down Mississippi’s ban on same-sex marriage from Judge Reeves can be read here: http://bit.ly/1thJuaT.
“In 1776, the founders of our nation declared that ‘all men are created equal’ and that they are ‘endowed’ with ‘certain unalienable rights,’ including ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ Almost 240 years later, on July 1 of this year, the State of Mississippi intends to implement a law that could hardly be more inconsistent with these principles,” says lead counsel Roberta Kaplan. “That law, HB 1523, declares that Mississippians who hold certain religious beliefs–namely, that gay people should not be permitted to marry (among others)–should have special rights and privileges, including the right to discriminate against and undermine the dignity of LGBT citizens. Given this obvious contradiction between HB 1523 and the core principles that our country has long stood for, we are confident that HB 1523 will not survive review by a federal court.”
Mississippi is home to 60,000 LGBT adults and an estimated 11,400 Transgender youth and adults, according to 2016 data published by The Williams Institute at the U.C.L.A. School of Law. The state is also home to 3,500 same-sex couples, 29 percent of whom are raising children.
Based in Asheville, North Carolina, the Campaign for Southern Equality is a non-profit organization that empowers LGBT individuals and families across the South and advocates for full legal equality for all.
Contacts: Aaron Sarver, Communications Director, Campaign for Southern Equality, 773.960.2857 (c), firstname.lastname@example.org;