Just hours before it was to take effect, a federal judge blocked a Mississippi law that protected people who denied service to gays and lesbians on religious grounds.
U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves ruled early Friday morning that the law is “the state’s attempt to put LGBT citizens back in their place,” after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, the AP is reporting.
“In physics, every action has its equal and opposite reaction,” Reeves wrote. “In politics, every action has its predictable overreaction.”
The law would have allowed county clerks to cite religious objections and recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses if it went against their religious beliefs and would have protected business owners who refused service to LGBT people.
It also put three beliefs into state law: That marriage is only between a man and a woman, that sex should only take place in such a marriage and that a person’s gender is determined at birth and cannot be altered.
“The state has put its thumb on the scale to favor some religious beliefs over others,” Reeves wrote. He also wrote that it violates the Constitution’s equal protection guarantee.
Back in April, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed the bill, winning praise from Christian Conservatives. He received a “religious freedom award” from the Family Research Council.
Reeves wrote: “HB 1523 favors Southern Baptist over Unitarian doctrine, Catholic over Episcopalian doctrine, and Orthodox Judaism over Reform Judaism doctrine, to list just a few examples.”
Brandiilyne Magnum-Dear, minister of the Joshua Generation Metropolitan Community Church in Hattiesburg, is one of the plaintiffs who challenged the law.
“The passage of this bill signaled to our church, and to my wife and me, that our religious beliefs are less worthy of protection than those of others, and that the rights of gay, lesbian, and transgender people are not equal to the rights of others,” Magnum-Dear said in a statement after Reeves’ ruling.
Nationwide, more than 100 bills were filed in more than 20 states in response to the Supreme Court’s gay-marriage ruling.