The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] heard oral arguments [audio, MP3] Monday over a Mississippi law dealing with religious objections to same-sex marriage. The Mississippi law would let merchants and government employees cite religious belief in denying services [CNS News report] to same-sex couples. The law started as House Bill 1523 [text] and was passed and signed by the Mississippi government. A federal judge blocked the law before it could take effect in July 2016. The Mississippi Democratic Attorney General declined to appeal the ruling that blocked the law from taking effect, therefore private attorneys are handling the governor’s appeal. Those opposed to the legislation state [NYT report] that it is unconstitutional in light of Supreme Court precedent and unlawfully endorses specific religions. Those for the bill argue that the law protects people from governmental discrimination against their religious beliefs.
District Judge Reeves had initially refused [JURIST report] to block the bill in it’s entirety and chose instead to hear challenges relating to the bill. Mississippi’s governor signed this bill into law last AprilApril, just days after a federal judge struck down [JURIST reports] Mississippi’s ban on adoption by same-sex partners. In November 2015the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that same-sex divorce is legal [JURIST report] within the state. In a 5-4 decision, the high court granted the divorce order citing to the recent US Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges [JURIST report] as the main legal authority.