Mississippi AG Chooses Special Interests Over Religious Freedom

Photo credit: Christopher Meredith via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Earlier this month, a federal judge blocked a pro-religious freedom law signed by Mississippi’s Republican governor, Phil Bryant. Governor Bryant vowed to appeal the ruling, but Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, a Democrat, announced that he would not join in the defense of the law.

“All HB 1523 has done is tarnish Mississippi’s image while distracting us from the more pressing issues of decaying roads and bridges, underfunding of public education, the plight of the mentally ill and the need to solve our state’s financial mess,” Hood said.

The law in question, HB 1523, is meant to protect those with moral and religious objections to same-sex marriage, transgenderism, and extramarital sex from persecution from the state government. On Twitter, Governor Bryant wrote that he signed the law “to protect sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions of individuals, organizations, and private association from discriminatory action by state government.”

Thankfully, Governor Bryant has already filed an appeal, using his own attorney.

Roger Severino, a legal scholar at the Heritage Foundation, wrote that “This law doesn’t take away anyone’s ability to enter a legally recognized same-sex marriage or live as they like. It only protects people and institutions to live according to reasonable and honorable views about marriage and sexual identity without facing government discrimination.”

Mississippi’s religious freedom law was passed in response to the ever-more-invasive agenda of social progressives. In California, the left is threatening Christian colleges and universities that uphold traditional sexual mores with massive penalties. Continue Reading

Judge Rules Against Religious Accommodation for Mississippi Clerks

Photo credit: American Life League via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

On Monday, a federal district judge appointed by President Obama struck down the section of Mississippi’s new religious freedom law allowing certain government employees to seek recusal from issuing marriage licenses or performing marriage ceremonies in violation of their sincerely held religious or moral beliefs. Judge Carlton Reeves ruled that the relevant officials must deal with all couples, whether opposite-sex or same-sex, in the same way. (Right now the order applies only to same-sex couples rather than polygamous or incestuous unions. But once the Supreme Court extends its Obergefell analysis to polygamy and incest, as it logically must, presumably this judge will extend his ruling accordingly.)

Examining the statutory provision struck down by Judge Reeves shows how alarmingly totalitarian the leftist mindset is on this issue. The statute allows affected officials to seek recusal without reprisal from the government employer, but the recused official is responsible for ensuring “that the authorization and licensing of any legally valid marriage is not impeded or delayed as a result of any recusal.” The statute thus protects the newly discovered right of same-sex couples to be legally married without even a delay. The provision merely requires that the clerk’s beliefs be accommodated if possible.

But even this is too much for the left, which demands not only equal treatment for same-sex couples, which they enjoy under this statute, but that everyone in their orbit pay homage to their actions. It is not enough that a clerk accommodate a same-sex couple’s demand for a marriage license by asking someone else in the office to issue it; rather, her labor must be dragooned — unnecessarily — in service of a result she finds morally objectionable. Continue Reading

Fighting Back Against President Obama’s Gender Identity Insanity

President Barack Obama (photo credit: Marc Nozell via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

It didn’t take long for Mississippi State School Superintendent Carey Wright to fall in line like a good bureaucrat.

On Friday the 13th, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice issued their lawless edict threatening public schools and universities if they refused to open up their restrooms, locker rooms, dormitories, and probably sports teams to both sexes.

Before the day was out, Dr. Wright’s office had surrendered without a fight: “A safe and caring school environment is critical to a student’s ability to learn and achieve. The Mississippi Department of Education will adhere to . . . the joint guidance issued today” by the federal overlords.

Dr. Wright, with her credentials burnished in the liberal confines of DC and Maryland, apparently misread the landscape in Mississippi. As she was rushing to prove her fealty to the Obama administration, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant was hitting Twitter to urge the state Department of Education to ignore the decree.

Then both houses of the legislature weighed in, blasting Dr. Wright for “ma[king] the decision to usurp the [state] board’s authority and unilaterally issue the policy decision to acquiesce to the illegal demands of the federal government. For this, the superintendent must be held accountable.”

Dr. Wright finally reversed her decision, not with a ringing endorsement of state autonomy and protection of children, but with a meek acknowledgement that her department would “follow the lead” of state elected officials and take no action until the State Board of Education could meet.

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