Friday, July 1, 2016
" The plaintiffs filed these suits to enjoin a new state law, “House Bill 1523,” before it goes into effect on July 1, 2016. They contend that the law violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. The Attorney General’s Office has entered its appearance to defend HB 1523. The parties briefed the relevant issues and presented evidence and argument at a joint hearing on June 23 and 24, 2016.
The United States Supreme Court has spoken clearly on the constitutional principles at stake. Under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, a state “may not aid, foster, or promote one religion or religious theory against another.” Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97, 104 (1968). “When the government acts with the ostensible and predominant purpose of advancing religion, it violates that central Establishment Clause value of official religious neutrality, there being no neutrality when the government’s ostensible object is to take sides.” McCreary Cnty., Kentucky v. ACLU of Kentucky, 545 U.S. 844, 860 (2005).
Under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, meanwhile, a state may not deprive lesbian and gay citizens of “the protection of general laws and policies that prohibit arbitrary discrimination in governmental and private settings.” Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620, 630 (1996).
HB 1523 grants special rights to citizens who hold one of three “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions” reflecting disapproval of lesbian, gay, transgender, and unmarried persons. Miss. Laws 2016, HB 1523 § 2 (eff. July 1, 2016). That violates both the guarantee of religious neutrality and the promise of equal protection of the laws.
The Establishment Clause is violated because persons who hold contrary religious beliefs are unprotected – the State has put its thumb on the scale to favor some religious beliefs over others. Showing such favor tells “nonadherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and . . . adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.” Santa Fe Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290, 309-10 (2000). And the Equal Protection Clause is violated by HB 1523’s authorization of arbitrary discrimination against lesbian, gay, transgender, and unmarried persons.
“It is not within our constitutional tradition to enact laws of this sort.” Romer, 517 U.S. at 633. The plaintiffs’ motions are granted and HB 1523 is preliminarily enjoined. ...
Religious freedom was one of the building blocks of this great nation, and after the nation was torn apart, the guarantee of equal protection under law was used to stitch it back together.
But HB 1523 does not honor that tradition of religion freedom, nor does it respect the equal dignity of all of Mississippi’s citizens. It must be enjoined.
The motions are granted.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the defendants; their officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys; and any other persons who are in active concert or participation with the defendants or their officers, agents, servants, employees, or attorneys; are hereby preliminarily enjoined from enacting or enforcing HB 1523.
Judge Carlton W. Reeves, US District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, Northern Division, June 30 2016; rules against law to legalize discrimination specifically against gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals and couples, and unmarried straight couples.
Click here to read the entire decision
(not quite primary source)
"... I'm announcing today that we're ending the ban on transgender Americans in the United States military.
Effective immediately, transgender Americans may serve openly and they can no longer be discharged or otherwise separated from the military just for being transgender.
Additionally, I have directed that the gender identity of an otherwise qualified individual will not bar them from military service or from any accession program.
In taking the steps, we are eliminating policies that can result in transgender members being treated differently from their peers based solely upon their gender identity, rather than upon their ability to serve and we are confirming that going forward we will apply the same general principles, standards and procedures to transgender service members as we do to all service members. ... "
US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, June 30. 2016.
Click here to read the entire statement
Click here to watch the video