The southern state’s law is known as the broadest anti-LGBT legislation in the United States.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, a non-profit organisation that aims to defend individual rights to every American citizen, filed a lawsuit on Monday suing the southern state over House Bill 1523 (HB 1523). The law was introduced earlier this year and signed by Governor Phil Bryant in April. It will take effect on 1 July.
The country has seen an increase in anti-LGBT bills being presented under the guise of religious freedom bills since the June 2015 Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality.
HB 1523 has been referred to as “the most sweeping anti-LGBT legislation in the United States.” Under the bill, individuals, religious organizations, and privately owned businesses can refuse services to same-sex couples, couples that choose to engage in sex outside of marriage, and transgender people. As long as they are acting on a “sincerely held” religious belief, they will not face legal penalties.
The bill also includes stipulations that any person claiming a “sincerely held” religious belief can also refuse to provide health and counselling services, foster care options, adoption services, and county clerks have the option to recuse themselves if they do not wish to issue a marriage license.
The bill specifies that employers and school administrators can control the access to bathrooms, locker rooms, “or other intimate facilities and settings.”
The ACLU is not the only group that has filed a lawsuit against the state. Campaign for Southern Equality has also filed against the state, asking for a 2014 federal lawsuit to be reopened.
One lawyer working on the Campaign for Southern Equality case, Roberta Kaplan, is requesting that the names of clerks who have recused themselves be released. In the filing, Kaplan stated that HB 1523 “is absolutely silent as to how the right of all Mississippians who seek to legally marry, including gay men and lesbians, will be protected under this new ‘recusal’ system.”
In response to the lawsuits, Bryant, who has defended the bill since signing it, said, “the ACLU continues its mission of trying to use the federal court system to push its liberal agenda. Instead of cherry-picking causes popular with the radical left, the ACLU should allocate its resources defending all civil liberties.”