Justices won't step into MS gay rights legal fight

The SC on Monday said it will revisit its earlier 2013 verdict regarding Section 377

The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to take up a legal battle over a MS law that allows state employees and private businesses to deny services to LGBT people based on religious objections.

Championed and signed by Republican Gov. Phil Bryant in 2016, the law allows clerks to cite religious objections to recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and would protect merchants who refuse services to LGBT people.

The law specifically protects three beliefs: that marriage is only between a man and a woman, that sex should only occur in such a marriage and that a person's gender is determined at birth and can not be altered.

Legal challenges prevented the law from going into effect until October, after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided against considering an appeal of whether the law should stand. But lower courts, without ruling on the merits of the law, said those suing could not show that they would be harmed by it. The appellate judges did not rule on the law's substance.

Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit organization that is part of the legal team representing Gov. Phil Bryant in the cases, argued that the MS law had been misinterpreted.

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The SC also issued a notice to the Centre seeking response on a writ petition filed by five members of LGBT community, who say they live in fear of Police due to their natural sexual preferences.

"We will keep fighting in MS until we overturn this harmful law, and in any state where antigay legislators pass laws to roll back LGBT civil rights", said Beth Littrell, a lawyer with gay rights group Lambda Legal.

The ACLU of MS already has a challenge to the law ready to move forward. Later, the Supreme Court overturned the decision in 2012. We want to hear from anyone who experiences discrimination in marriage, health care, or any other context.

Among other things, the measure lets businesses refuse to provide marriage-related services to same-sex couples and allows judges, magistrates and justices of the peace to refuse to perform same-sex weddings.

"House Bill 1523 can not trump the Constitution or other federal anti-discrimination statutes".

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