July 7, 2016 at 11:52 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Miss. governor to appeal ruling against ‘religious freedom’ law

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 indicated late Thursday his intent to appeal a court ruling against a “religious freedom” law seen to enable sweeping anti-LGBT discrimination in the state, ending speculation on whether a district judge’s order against the law would be the final word on the matter.

Legal documents filed in the federal lawsuit against HB 1523 provide notice of appearance for Drew Snyder as counsel for Bryant and alert the court the governor seeks to appeal the preliminary injunction against the law to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In addition to those filings, Bryant’s attorney filed legal documents calling on the court to stay the injunction against the law issued last week pending appeal of the lawsuit.

In a nine-page filing, Snyder argues a stay is warranted on the basis that Mississippi is likely to succeed on appeal, HB 1523 is constitutional and the state will suffer irreparable injury without a hold on the order.

“On equal protection, this Court held that HB 1523 failed rational-basis review, but that conclusion is untenable,” the filing says. “HB 1523 has an obvious rational basis: Protecting the citizens of Mississippi from being forced or pressured to act in a manner contrary to their deeply held religious or moral beliefs.”

Last week, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves, an Obama appointee, granted a preliminary injunction blocking the enforcement of HB 1523 on the day it was set to take effect on the basis that it violates the Establishment Clause barring the government from aligning itself with a particular religion.

Mississippi Attorney Jim Hood, a Democrat, has suggested he wouldn’t appeal the decision against HB 1523, saying the “churchgoing public was duped into believing that HB 1523 protected religious freedoms.” A Hood spokesperson told the Friday the attorney general will make a decision about the appeal in the coming days.

Signed by Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant in April, House Bill 1523 is seen to enable sweeping anti-LGBT discrimination in the name of “religious freedom.” The law permits clerks to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples, provided someone else in their office can offer the service, and allows business and individuals to deny services to same-sex couples as well as transition-related care to transgender people.

Reeves issued the preliminary injunction as a result of two separate lawsuits. One was filed on behalf of the Campaign for Southern Equality by Roberta Kaplan, the lesbian New York-based attorney who successfully argued against the Defense of Marriage Act before the U.S. Supreme Court. The other was filed by Rob McDuff of the Jackson-based law firm McDuff & Byrd in Jackson and the Mississippi Center for Justice.

In April, the Blade reported Bryant has a gay son who was physically attacked in 2012 because of his sexual orientation.

h/t Buzzfeed

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

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