Federal judge ruling strikes down section of HB 1523

Federal judge ruling strikes down section of HB 1523

MISSISSIPPI (WDAM) - House Bill 1523, also known as the Religious Freedom Bill, will officially become law Friday, but a federal judge's ruling is already altering the potential scope and reach of that bill.

A ruling by a federal judge Monday stated that circuit clerks in Mississippi will not be able to claim their religious freedom as a reason not to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

One section of House Bill 1523 allows circuit clerks to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if it interferes with their religious beliefs. But this will no longer apply because of U.S District Court Judge Carlton Reeves' ruling on Monday.

"He wants to make it absolutely clear that (HB) 1523 is not going to prevent gay and lesbian couples from getting marriage licenses in Mississippi," Hattiesbiurg attorney Alexander Ignatiev said.

For people in the LGBT community, like Brandiilyn Dear, this is a step in the right direction.

"I'm excited that we've gotten this ruling from judge Reeves," Dear said. "I'm thrilled that this is what he's decided to do."

Reeves is extending his previous ruling that overturned the ban on same-sex marriage and said circuit clerks are required to give equal treatment to all couples, whether they are gay or straight.

Ignatiev said he thinks it will not be long before the bill is completely struck down.

"It seems to me that he is basically going to declare part, if not all, of (HB) 1523 unconstitutional," Ignatiev said.

Dear said even if the bill is not struck down that she will continue to fight for her rights.

"We'll just keep going and going and going until we win," Dear said. The LGBT community has gone way too far to stop now; we won't stop until we win."

This ruling will not prevent house Bill 1523 from becoming a law on Friday, but Reeves said discussions will continue within the next few weeks about the Religious Freedom Bill.