LGBT law groups said Monday that they
will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down Mississippi's
controversial “religious freedom” law.
In June, a three-judge panel of the
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that plaintiffs in the case
lacked standing to challenge the law, reversing a lower court's order
that had put the law, known as HB 1523, on hold. On Friday, the
appeals court denied a request to rehear the case before the full
The 5th Circuit did not
address the constitutionality of the law.
Mississippi's Protecting Freedom of
Conscience from Government Discrimination Act allows businesses
to deny services to LGBT people based on their “sincerely held
religious beliefs or moral convictions.” It also seeks to provide
similar protections to individuals who object to transgender rights.
It is considered the broadest religious objections law enacted since
Obergefell, the 2015
Supreme Court case that found that gay and lesbian couples have a
constitutional right to marry.
Susan Hrowstowski of Hattiesburg, a
plaintiff in the case, denied the court's conclusion that she has not
been harmed by the law.
“The thing that bothers me about that
is that when your own government passes a law against you that is
emotionally, psychologically and spiritually demoralizing – it's
indescribable,” she told the AP. “You've got this entire class
of people who have been degraded to not even second-class
citizens...Now people can treat us as badly as they want without any
Republican Governor Phil Bryant once
again defended the law in a statement.
“As I have said from the beginning,
this law was democratically enacted and is perfectly constitutional.
The people of Mississippi have the right to ensure that all of our
citizens are free to peacefully live and work without fear of being
punished for their sincerely held religious beliefs,” Bryant said.