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District Court Denies Motion to Stay Preliminary Injunction of Mississippi Anti-Gay Law HB 1523

As reported in Slate, BuzzFeed and other news outlets, Judge Carlton W. Reeves of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi denied Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant's motion to stay the court's preliminary injunction, which prevented Mississippi's HB 1523 from going into effect on July 1. HB 1523, the "Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act," identifies three specific religious beliefs - (a) that marriage is only between a man and a woman, (b) that sex is only proper within a man-woman marriage and (c) that transgender and intersex people do not exist because all people are born and remain objectively male or female - and grants the holders of those religious beliefs broad immunity from local, state and federal anti-discrimination laws. The law also permits circuit clerks to refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, would allow all state employees to verbally harass LGBT people at work without fear of discipline and creates a private right of action against LGBT people and others who seek to vindicate their rights under existing anti-discrimination laws.

In denying the motion to stay, Judge Reeves forcefully rejected the governor's comparisons of HB 1523 to laws that permit individuals to opt out of going to war or perform abortions: "Matters of life and death are sui generis. If movants truly believe that providing services to LGBT citizens forces them to 'tinker with the machinery of death,' their animus exceeds anything seen in Romer, Windsor, or the marriage equality cases."

The Paul, Weiss team included litigation partner Roberta Kaplan and associates Josh Kaye, Jacob Hupart, Zach Dietert, Alexia Korberg, Amy Beaux, Jacob Taber and William Freeland.

August 1, 2016

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