December 16th, 2016
The Governor of Mississippi has requested that a federal appeals court pass a state law allowing merchants and governments employees to deny services to same-sex couples on the basis of religious beliefs. Because Mississippi’s Attorney General has refused to appeal this hearing, the case is being handled by private attorneys include some legal counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian based legal group. Because many individuals believe that this law will have an influential effect on how other states treat LGBT issues, all individuals who are interested in the development of LGBT issues should understand some of the key details about these laws.
The Purpose of the Religious Freedom Law
Before this law was to take effect on July 1, the US District Court blocked this religious freedom law on the basis that this law established preferred beliefs and created unequal treatment for individuals who identify as LGBT. This law, which is referred to as the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act or House Bill 1523, is intended to protect three beliefs:
- That marriage is only between a man and a woman,
- That sex should only take place in this type of a marriage, and
- A person’s gender is predetermined at birth and cannot later be altered.
This Mississippi law promises to not punish individuals who refuse to provide services on the basis of a religious opposition to LGBT issues. As a result, this law, if not abolished, would allow clerks to use religious objections in order to avoid issuing LGBT couples marriage licenses and merchant who refuse services to LGBT people would be protected. House Bill 1523 does not specifically mention the right of a private company or individual to fire employees or refuse to rent housing, but in the state of Mississippi it is still legal to terminate employment or refuse to rent property to individuals who identify as LGBT. This law has found support by Baptist and Pentecostal groups within the state of Mississippi.
Opposition to the Religious Freedom Law
Several large companies including the Coca-Cola Company and Northrop Grumman Corporation have cited the Religious Freedom Law as being discriminatory and requested that legislature repeal the law. Individuals who oppose this law claim that House Bill 1523 is essentially a state permitted way for individuals to discriminate against LGBT individuals in their right to marry, raise children, or receive medical treatment in addition to many other elements of daily living. Other individuals note that because House Bill 1523 also mentions extramarital sex, this proposed bill could also have a significant on unmarried couples and single mothers.
The Universal Life Church’s Blog
Experts report that more than 100 bills have been passed in more than 20 states since the Supreme Court of the United States issued a decision in 2015 that legalized gay marriage. As various LGBT rights develop, it is the aim of the Universal Life Church’s blog to update readers on these issues in an easily understood tone despite the many complicated laws and issues that are often attached to LGBT cases.
(image courtesy of CalebTabor)