Federal Judge strikes down part of Religious Accommodations Law
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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A federal judge has ruled that Mississippi clerks cannot cite their own religious beliefs to recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves' ruling on Monday blocks the state from enforcing part of a religious objections bill that was supposed to become law Friday.
Reeves is extending his previous order that overturned Mississippi's ban on same-sex marriage. He says circuit clerks are required to provide equal treatment for all couples, gay or straight.
Mississippi's religious objections measure, House Bill 1523 , was filed in response to last summer's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage nationwide.
Reeves has not yet ruled in two other lawsuits seeking to block all of the religious objections law, including provisions that could affect schools' bathroom policies for transgender students.
Mississippi Lt. Governor Tate Reeves issued the following statement on the decision:
“If this opinion by the federal court denies even one Mississippian of their fundamental right to practice their religion, then all Mississippians are denied their 1st Amendment rights,” Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said. “I hope the state’s attorneys will quickly appeal this decision to the 5th Circuit to protect the deeply held religious beliefs of all Mississippians.”