Attorneys will try again to block a Mississippi law that would let merchants and government employees cite religious beliefs to deny services to same-sex couples.
A 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel on Thursday reversed a judge's decision that blocked the law before it could take effect last July.
In 2016, the Mississippi Legislature passed the 'Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act,' better known as HB 1523, authored by House Speaker Philip Gunn.
Protesters have called for Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant to veto House Bill 1523, which they fear will allow discrimination against LGBT people. Pictured here at a rally in 2016
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, called for Mississippi Republican Gov. Phil Bryant to veto House Bill 1523 (file photo from April 2016)
As a reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide, the Mississippi bill seeks to protect by law the belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman and prevents government intervention when churches or businesses act 'based upon or in a manner consistent with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.'
It means that businesses can now refuse service to LGBTQ people and employers can fire (or refuse to hire) workers because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Adoption agencies, private and taxpayer-funded, can turn away same-sex couples and trans people and landlords can evict renters for being LGBTQ.
Medical professionals can refuse to treat LGBTQ patients while clerks and judges can refuse to marry same-sex couples and even schools can exclude trans students from bathrooms that align with their gender identity and discriminate against all LGBTQ students.
The measure drew protests and rallies at the state Capitol and criticism nationwide as supporting discrimination against gay people and others in the name of religion.
Robert McDuff is an attorney for some of the people who sued to try to block the law.
The new law means businesses can refuse service to LGBTQ people and employers can fire (or refuse to hire) workers because of their sexual orientation and gender identity
U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves, pictured, had ruled that the law unconstitutionally establishes preferred beliefs and creates unequal treatment for LGBT people
He says that within two weeks, he will either ask the entire 5th Circuit to reconsider the panel's decision or ask the U.S. Supreme Court to block the law.
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant and other supporters say the law protects beliefs that marriage can be between only a man and a woman, and that a person's gender is determined at birth and cannot be changed.
Gay and straight plaintiffs who sued the state say the law gives 'special protections to one side' in a religious debate.
Earlier on Thursday, a federal appeals court struck down the law.
U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves had ruled that the law unconstitutionally establishes preferred beliefs and creates unequal treatment for LGBT people.
A small Human Rights Campaign equality banner flies on the grounds of the Governor's Mansion in Jackson. The new law means adoption agencies, private and taxpayer-funded, can turn away same-sex couples and trans people.