Human rights advocates today announced an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to block enforcement of a Mississippi law that allows businesses to refuse service to gay people.
Mississippi’s HB 1523 took effect today. A federal district judge ruled it unconstitutional, but an appeals court later ruled that the plaintiffs in the case lacked standing to challenge the law. So it is taking effect and, thus, the Supreme Court appeal.
The law is explicit in the forms of discrimination it is intended to protect. But it has relevance throughout the U.S., where protection of LGBT people is the exception and not the rule. The so-called religious freedom law passed by the Arkansas legislature with Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s approval in 2015 was intended to achieve the same aim — provide a religious excuse for discrimination in employment, housing and public services based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Protecting that sort of discrimination is also at the root of the Arkansas law prohibiting local governments from passing civil rights ordinances to protect LGBT people. A case attempting to enforce that law against a Fayetteville non-discrimination ordinance is pending before the Arkansas Supreme Court.
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