Mississippi's Religious Accommodation Act challenged in federal - WLBT.com - Jackson, MS

Mississippi's Religious Accommodation Act challenged in federal court

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT

Mississippi's Religious Accommodations Act is being challenged in federal court this week, in an act many say targets the LGBT community. 

It's known as House Bill 1523, and allows Mississippi officials and service providers, such as doctors and clergy, to recuse themselves from serving individuals on the basis of religious beliefs.

“We have seen a lot of religious exemptions and bills introduced around the country. The Mississippi Law is by far the most expansive,” said UCLA Law Professor Douglas NeJaime.

The Religious Accommodation Act that many say denies equal protection to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is set to become law July 1.

“It sets a bad precedent for the State of Mississippi for our reputation in the country and the world,” said Rabbi Jeremy Simons.

Supporters of the LGBT Community testified in court on Thursday that they want to see it blocked, including Rabbi Simons who said the bill has little to do with religion and a lot to do with discrimination.

“They already feel marginalized society and starting July 1st that is about to get even worse if this bill goes into effect” added Simons.

Judge Carlton Reeves presided over Thursday's hearing involving The Campaign for Southern Equality and the Mississippi Center for Justice.

“I think we put on an incredible case of what the statue is, what it is about and the kind of harms it already has caused gay people in Mississippi and  it will cause if it goes into effect,” said lead plaintiff’s attorney Roberta Kaplan.

But attorneys for the state disagree.  During court, they argued that the co-authors of the bill wanted to even the playing field for those with strong religious beliefs and the state will not allow anyone to discriminate.

The battle over this controversial bill will continue Friday morning at  nine in federal court. 

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