MISSISSIPPI (WDAM) - Businesses in Mississippi will have the right to refuse services to same-sex couples around the state starting Friday.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied the request for a rehearing with the full panel of the Fifth Circuit to plaintiffs in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant III Friday, September 29. That request challenged the passage of House Bill 1523 in Mississippi.
HB 1523 allows merchants and government employees to cite religious beliefs to deny services to same-sex couples.
Governor Phil Bryant, who signed HB 1523 in April of 2016, said the law was designed to protect three specific religious beliefs: marriage is between a man and woman, no sex outside of such marriage and a person's gender is determined at birth.
"HB 1523 is a reckless law that discriminates against and hurts the LGBT community," said Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality. "We have fought this law from day one and will continue to do so with every tool available to us. If folks encounter discrimination, we have set up a hotline to report it and access legal and support services."
The Campaign for Southern Equality said it "will be returning to the district court immediately to do everything in our power to make sure that this unconstitutional statute is in effect for as short a time as possible."
According to 2016 data by the Williams Institute at the U.C.L.A. School of Law, Mississippi is home to 60,000 LGBT adults and an estimated 11,400 transgender youth and adults. The state is also home to 3,500 same-sex couples, 29 percent of whom are raising children—the highest rate in the nation.