Written by Don Byrd
Last year, a federal judge in Mississippi struck down the state’s controversial law, HB 1523, before it took effect. The measure would have shieldied businesses, religious organizations and individuals from government penalty for actions taken in accordance with certain religious beliefs (including the belief that “[m]arriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.”). Judge Carlton Reeves ruled that the law violates the separation of church and state because “persons who hold contrary religious beliefs are unprotected.”
In a dramatic moment, Judge Catharina Haynes of the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit acted out a possible scenario — throwing her hands up and tossing her hair back, impersonating a marriage clerk who flees when she sees two lesbians.
“If I go to the marriage counter and say I want a marriage license with, say, Sue, and the clerk says, ‘Uh, I recuse myself,’ and the clerk goes running down the hall,” she told a lawyer representing the state of Mississippi, “I am not sure why this isn’t state-sanctioned discrimination.”