Federal Court Blocks Mississippi HB 1523

Mississippi HB 1523, a cornerstone of the current wave of cisarchal legislation, was scheduled to go into effect today. Late last night United States District Court Judge Carlton W. Reeves issued a ruling against it. He concluded that “Religious freedom was one of the building blocks of this great nation, and after the nation was torn apart, the guarantee of equal protection under law was used to stitch it back together. But HB 1523 does not honor that tradition of religious freedom, nor does it respect the equal dignity of all of Mississippi’s citizens. It must be enjoined.”

The ruling orders “that the defendants; their officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys; and any other persons who are in active concert or participation with the defendants or their officers, agents, servants, employees, or attorneys; are hereby preliminarily enjoined from enacting or enforcing HB 1523.”

The defendants named in the lawsuit are Governor Phil Bryant, Attorney General Jim Hood, Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services John Davis and State Registrar of Vital Records Judy Moulder.

Governor Bryant is quoted in the Clarion-Ledger, responding: “Like I said when I signed House Bill 1523, the law simply provides religious accommodations granted by many other states and federal law… I am disappointed Judge Reeves did not recognize that reality. I look forward to an aggressive appeal.”

For signing HB 1523 and other actions the Family Research Council awarded Bryant with the inaugural “Samuel Adams Religious Freedom Award”. The Family Research Council crafted the strategy of pushing state level “bathroom bills” with the goal of legislating trans people out of existence. In accepting the award, he stated his fanaticism openly: “They don’t know that if it takes crucifixion, we will stand in line before abandoning our faith,”.

State Attorney General Jim Hood issued a statement reading, in part that “Our attorneys will evaluate this decision to determine whether or not to appeal all or parts of Thursday’s ruling.” and later that “I believe in the free exercise of religion and there will be a case in the future in which the U. S. Supreme Court will better define our religious rights.” He warned of the bitter campaign of attrition ahead: “An appeal could cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars… Even if we won and the injunction were set aside on appeal, the case would be remanded and proceed to trial over about two years.”

The forces of state authority may play at their rivalry over our lives for years to come. The time is now to build solidarity with popular struggles in Mississippi, to build towards our shared liberation.

Note: Trigger warnings not available for the linx below.

To read the complete text of Judge Carlton W. Reeve’s order on HB 1523, click here: https://www.scribd.com/document/317206102/Mississippi-House-Bill-1523-Order

To read the complete text & legislative record of Mississippi HB 1523, click here: http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/2016/pdf/history/HB/HB1523.xml

To read coverage from the Clarion-Ledger, click here: http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2016/07/01/house-bill-1523-struck-down/86587988/ and here: http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/politics/2016/05/31/mississippi-governor-secular-world-angry-over-lgbt-law/85208312/

To read the Attorney General’s complete statement, click here: http://www.ago.state.ms.us/attorney-general-jim-hood-issued-the-following-statement-on-judge-carlton-reeves-ruling-regarding-hb-1523/

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