According to Weber, in a blog post today, “Opponents of Freedom Reveal Their True Agenda: Intolerance.” Those “opponents of freedom” would be gay couples in Mississippi who have the temerity to want to be free of discrimination — particularly when it comes to their marriages. Now I realize that treating gay people with dignity is a challenge for some in the Bible Belt. However, as it stands, gay couples have a constitutional right to marry. When the state or agents of the state interfere with constitutional rights people seek redress through the courts.
At issue is a motion filed in federal district court by the Campaign for Southern Equality. According to Weber:
Before same-sex marriage was constitutionally enshrined, we heard about how it would not affect anyone’s religious freedom. It was just about access to the marriage license, we were told.The problem (and I am freely quoting in part from the motion) is that HB 1523, the so-called “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act,” authorizes, indeed encourages, discrimination against LGBT Mississippians based on certain “sincerely held religious beliefs” including that: (a) “marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman”; (b) “sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage”; or (c) “male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.”
Anyone who thinks opponents of Christian morality are not interested in forcing everyone to conform to their views need only glance at a motion filed in federal court in Mississippi reacting to a law which provides, of all things, exemptions on conscience grounds.
In their motion, this group of opponents asks the court to make sure that anyone “recusing himself or herself under Section 3(8) of HB 1523” be forced to “desist from issuing any marriage licenses to any other couples, including opposite-sex couples.”
In other words, Mississippi has provided a license to discriminate to just about anyone who wants one. Public accommodations can turn away gay couples with impunity. Even a hotel could refuse to provide a room to a gay couple. However, the focus of the motion is on Section 3(8) of HB 1523, which explicitly targets the rights of gay and lesbian couples to marry in Mississippi by permitting “any person employed or acting on behalf of the state government who has authority to authorize or license marriages” to “recuse” themselves from doing so for gay couples based on the above- described “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Thus the license to discriminate has been extended to public servants. Some schmuck on the public payroll can decline to issue a marriage license to a gay couple simply because he doesn't like gay people. In effect, HB 1523 insults prior rulings from the same court which struck down Mississippi's same-sex marriage ban — a decision that was upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2015, prior to the Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell.
The bottom line to all of this is that gay citizens are relegated to second-class status and do not enjoy equal protection under law. Far from it.
What the motion requests of the court (paraphrased):
- The State of Mississippi must stop interfering with the constitutional rights of gay couples wishing to marry and;
- Should an employee of the state recuse himself or herself from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples then they must file a plan with the court insuring that the constitutional rights of gay couples will not be impeded and;
- Recusal notices will be prominently displayed on the state's website and;
- In order to treat people equally then someone recusing themselves from issuing a marriage license to a same-sex couple will cease to issue marriage licenses to any couple.