"Third Lawsuit, Fourth Legal Challenge Filed Against HB1523" by Jackblog | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

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Third Lawsuit, Fourth Legal Challenge Filed Against HB1523

The Campaign for Southern Equality and Mississippi-native Rev. Susan Hrostowski filed a lawsuit against several state officials, saying that House Bill 1523 is unconstitutional, late last week.

The lawsuit states that House Bill 1523 violates the first and fourteenth amendments of the U.S. Constitution and asks the U.S. District Court to enjoin the bill from becoming law on July 1. New York-based attorney Roberta Kaplan, who won same-sex couples the right to marry and adopt in this state, will represent the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit names the governor, attorney general, the executive director of MDHS, and the state registrar for vital records as defendants. Several floor debate comments from the 2016 legislative session about the bill are used in the initial complaint. The complaint draws the distinction between Mississippi's Religious Freedom Restoration Act and The Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act.

"Critically, the Mississippi RFRA does not single out any particular religious belief or creed and privilege it above all others..." the complaint says. "HB 1523, however, starkly departs from this tradition and practice by providing additional rights and benefits and by extending well beyond those available under RFRA, but only to individuals or entities that espouse one of three specific beliefs: (a) that '[m]arriage is or should be recognized as union of one man and one woman,' (b) that '[s]exual relations are properly reserved to' a marriage between one man and one woman, or (c) male and female 'refer to an individual's immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at the time of birth.'"

The ACLU and the Mississippi Center for Justice have both filed lawsuits, asking the courts to rule House Bill 1523 unconstitutional, and Kaplan filed a motion to re-open the case that legalized same-sex marriage in Mississippi, due to HB1523's passage. The Campaign for Southern Equality's lawsuit is the third lawsuit filed against House Bill 1523 and the fourth legal challenge.

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