The Supreme Court announced Monday it will not hear two challenges to a Mississippi law that permits businesses and government workers with “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions” to deny services to LGBT people, like issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
The law, HB 1523, took effect in October after a federal appeals court ruled that challengers of the law did not adequately prove that it harmed them; as a result, the court decided that the plaintiffs had no standing to challenge it.
It protects three specific “convictions”: that “marriage is or should be recognized as between one man and one woman;” that “sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage;” and that gender is an objective fact determined by “anatomy and genetics” at birth.
The preservation of Mississippi’s anti-LGBT law also newly threatens LGBT Mississippians’ ability to adopt or foster children—in 2016, a federal judge struck down a ban on adoptions by same-sex couples in the state, ruling that the ban violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. But HB1523 effectively legalizes the same principles that allowed the same-sex adoption ban to exist initially.
In response to the Supreme Court’s decision, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, a fierce supporter of HB1523, told Mississippi Today that “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.”