US Supreme Court will let Mississippi ‘freedom to discriminate’ law stand

The US Supreme Court has declined to hear a case about Mississippi’s anti-LGBT law, allowing it to stand.

The Republican-dominated state recently passed HB 1523, a broad law which grants Mississippians the ability to use so-called “religious exemptions” to legally deny LGBTQ people employment, housing, adoption rights, marriage licenses, and even services at a local business.

Despite protests from LGBT rights groups, the sweeping law was signed by the state’s Governor Phil Bryant, and came into effect in October.

A legal challenge to the law was rejected by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that the plaintiffs in the case – including same-sex couples and civil rights advocates – did not have standing to challenge the law.

The US Supreme Court today declined to review that decision, essentially allowing Mississippi’s anti-LGBT law to stand.

(Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

The US Supreme Court only takes up a fraction of cases put before it, but the decision to avoid intervening in the case has sparked concern.

Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD, said: “This latest punt on LGBTQ rights by the nation’s highest court promotes state-stationed discrimination by upholding a law that allows hotels, ER doctors, business owners, and even pediatricians to legally deny services to hardworking LGBTQ families in Mississippi.

“While freedom of religion is a fundamental right, it should never give people the right to impose their belief on others and openly discriminate against others in the name of religious exemptions.”

The law’s passage comes despite research from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) which showed that a majority of Americans oppose anti-LGBTQ legislation.

The polling revealed that more than six in ten (61%) Americans oppose allowing small business owners to refuse to provide products or services to gay or lesbian people. Just three in ten (30%) Americans support their right to to do so.

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