May 27, 2016 at 5:10 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Mississippi governor advances anti-LGBT efforts in two lawsuits
Mississippi, Phil Bryant, House Bill 1523, HB 1523, gay news, Washington Blade

Gov. Phil Bryant (R-Miss.) signed House Bill 1523, a religious freedom law that critics contend will allow LGBT discrimination.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant took actions this week enhancing his already established anti-LGBT reputation, which at the same time has earned him recognition by an anti-LGBT group.

After 11 states led by Texas Attorney Ken Paxton announced a new lawsuit against the Obama’s administration guidance to schools protecting transgender students, Bryant announced on his Facebook page he intends to join the litigation.

“In regards to the 11 state lawsuit against the Obama administration over its bathroom directive, our office has talked to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office and I intend, as soon as possible, to join the lawsuit against this latest example of federal overreach,” Bryant said.

Clay Chandler, a Bryant spokesperson, is quoted in the Mississippi-based Clarion-Ledger as saying the Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, a Democrat, refused to join in the lawsuit. The governor reportedly plans to use one of his own staff attorneys in the suit. Bryant’s office didn’t respond to the Washington Blade’s request to comment on participation in the lawsuit.

But Bryant and Hood on Friday jointly filed a motion before federal court opposing the re-opening of the state’s now closed same-sex marriage case, a move proposed by New York-based lesbian attorney Roberta Kaplan and the Campaign for Southern Equality in the aftermath of Bryant signing into law “religious freedom” legislation seen to enable sweeping anti-LGBT discrimination.

Kaplan, who successfully argued against the Defense of Marriage Act before the Supreme Court, sought to re-open the case on the basis the “religious freedom” law undermines the U.S. Supreme Court ruling for same-sex marriage nationwide by allowing clerks to decline marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The 21-page filing from Bryant and Hood makes the argument the marriage case “should remain closed” because no evidence in Mississippi exists demonstrating a delay in issuing marriage licenses in the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling.

“To this day, nobody – whether a party to this now closed lawsuit or not – has ever come forward with any allegations, much less any proof, that the defendant Hinds County Circuit Clerk’s Office, or anyone in any non-party Mississippi Circuit Clerks’ Offices have ever impeded, delayed, or otherwise failed to properly and timely process and issue a marriage license to any same-sex couple,” the document says.

The Washington Blade has placed a call in with the attorney general’s office asking why Hood sought fit to take part in the marriage lawsuit, but not the lawsuit over the trans student guidance.

Bryant’s efforts have not gone unnoticed by anti-LGBT forces. For the signing the “religious freedom” bill, as well as an earlier “religious freedom” measure in 2014 seen to enable anti-LGBT discrimination, the Family Research Council on Thursday presented Bryant with the first ever “Samuel Adams Religious Freedom Award.”

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, presented Bryant the award during the “Watchmen on the Wall” briefing, an annual conference in which pastors from more than 40 states participated.

“Targeted by those who wish to advance a radical social agenda, Governor Bryant has stood firm and unequivocal in defending religious liberty for the citizens of Mississippi. Inflexible in matters of truth, yet committed to the welfare of his fellow man, Phil Bryant embodies the kind of leader Sam Adams envisioned to sustain virtue in public life and freedom in public law,” Perkins said.

The Washington Blade reported last month that Bryant has a gay son who was physically attacked in 2012 because of his sexual orientation.


Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

1 Comment
  • Lincoln was wrong. We should have allowed the south to fester in the miasma of its bigotry. Instead of being the mean spirited, disruptive, social and tax burden to the rest of the country that it is today, it would have become a banana republic without any bananas.

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