Back in 2016, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act” into law. The bill, otherwise known as HB 1523, officially protects the belief that “marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.” It also protects the belief that “sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage” and the belief that “male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.”
Unsurprisingly, the legislation subsequently enraged countless liberals. In response, they attempted to challenge the legislation in court through two different lawsuits. Just recently, however, their first attempt to have the law overturned officially came to an end. This is because, earlier this week, the Supreme Court formally refused to hear both cases, which means that the lower court’s decision in favor of the law stands.
Following the Supreme Court’s refusal to review the cases, many liberals, such as Masen Davis, the CEO of Freedom for All Americans and opponent of the state law, were left absolutely outraged. “The Court’s inaction today means that LGBTQ Mississippians will continue to face harassment and discrimination,” complained Davis in a recently released statement utterly condemning the decision.
To clarify why he was so upset, he added, “HB 1523 fails to honor the tradition of religious freedom in America — instead, it allows people to use religion as a license to discriminate. The LGBTQ community remains in harm’s way every single day that this law is in effect, and we are committed to working with our legal partners to strike this draconian measure once and for all.”
Beth Orlansky, an advocacy director for the Mississippi Center for Justice who was also a plaintiff in one of the cases, was also angered by the decision. “Unfortunately, the Court decided to pass on the opportunity to answer a critical question about who has access to justice in this country and how much suffering our most vulnerable have to experience before they can seek recourse in the courts,” stated Orlansky, who vowed to not give up. “We will continue to fight against HB 1523 on behalf of LGBT Mississippians and everyone in our state impacted by this draconian law,” she promised.
Those who supported the state law, though, were understandably happy about the fact that the Court refused to hear their case. For example, shortly after the Court refused, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant (R), who was one of the law’s most vocal supporters, released a statement celebrating the decision.
Specifically, he said, “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.”
Kevin Theriot, a senior attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) who played a major role in the drafting and subsequent defense of the legislation, was also pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision. “Good laws like Mississippi’s protect freedom and harm no one,” began Theriot in a statement of his own.
“The 5th Circuit was right to find that those opposing this law haven’t been harmed and, therefore, can’t try to take it down,” he continued, adding, “because of that, we are pleased that the Supreme Court declined to take up these baseless challenges, which misrepresented the law’s sole purpose of ensuring that Mississippians don’t live in fear of losing their careers or their businesses simply for affirming marriage as a husband-wife union.”
The authoritarian left must not be allowed to roll back protections for religious freedom. To ensure that this doesn’t happen, conservatives across the country need to work together and push back against any other attempts to overturn HB 1523 or any other law like it.