Federal Judge Refuses to Block Religious Accommodations Act
A federal judge has decided not to block Mississippi’s controversial Religious Accommodations Act. News 25’s Kendra Turley gives us a look at how both the ACLU and members of the LGBT community are handling the news.
Nkyolas Alford and Stephan Thomas, a gay couple from Meridian, Mississippi, have been engaged for nearly two years. The couple teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union to file the very first lawsuit against House Bill 1523, calling it a “slap in the face.” Zakiya Summers with the ACLU said, “This law is harmful, not just for them, not just for them, but for all Mississippians. I think that’s one of the things that we miss is that HB 1523 puts everyone at risk.”
The statewide law is expected to take effect July 1st. Those in favor of the bill say it protects religious views. Those against is say it is unconstitutional and discriminates. Circuit Clerk Zack Wallace said, “We don’t look at it as a same-sex marriage license. We look at it as a marriage license.”
United States District Judge Carlton Reeves denied the ACLU’s motion for a preliminary injunction essentially because the couple plans on applying for a marriage license sometime within the next three years, proving HB 1523 as no “real and immediate” threat. President of the Mississippi Rainbow Center Molly Kester said, “I think the biggest thing, especially for the LGBT people, is don’t take it as a setback. This is just part of the whole legal process.”
The ACLU has filed a motion to reconsider and is hopeful the court will take another look. “We’re going to do all that we can. The ACLU Mississippi will continue our efforts to make sure that HB 1523 is struck down or repealed,” said Summers.
Later this week, Judge Reeves will hear arguments in the most recent lawsuit filed challenging the Religious Freedom Bill.