Editorials

When it comes HB 1523, we hope Mississippi wins and its leaders lose

Protesters call for Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant to veto House Bill 1523, which they says will allow discrimination against LGBT people, during a rally outside the Governor's Mansion in 2016.
Protesters call for Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant to veto House Bill 1523, which they says will allow discrimination against LGBT people, during a rally outside the Governor's Mansion in 2016. AP

The federal appeals court ensured more well-deserved shame will be heaped on our state when it ruled that plaintiffs who sued to overturn the “religious freedom” law did not have standing to challenge the law. In short, the court said they couldn’t sue because they couldn’t have been injured by a law that wasn’t in effect.

So, now we wait for someone to use the law against an LGBTQ person. We would hope no one will. But if they do, the reaction will be swift and the state will be fighting another costly losing battle.

“I hope this slap in the face corrects the behavior of the Mississippi Legislature,” plaintiff Renick Taylor of Biloxi told the Sun Herald the day a federal judge struck down the law in 2016, “because if they try it again we will be there again.”

The Mississippi Center for Justice and Lambda Legal are itching for a fight, too.

“We believe the 5th Circuit panel is wrong and intend to seek further review, perhaps from the full 5th Circuit and definitely from the United States Supreme Court,” said Mississippi civil rights attorney Rob McDuff. “People should not have to live through discrimination in order to challenge this obviously unconstitutional bill. Even though the injunction has been reversed for now, I am pleased that we were able to stop the bill from being implemented thus far. Hopefully, our efforts to seek further review will prevent it from going into effect in the future.”

We will repeat again and again there is no evidence that anyone, or any business, has had its deeply held religious beliefs harmed by a LGBTQ couple wanting to marry.

We will repeat just as often that Mississippi has a much longer list of real problems: people mired in chronic poverty, hospitals that are failing, people living without health care, people worried about where their next meal will come from, schools that have failed generations of children and incomes that lag the rest of the United States.

That is where our leaders should be devoting their time and energy.

The “Marriage Freedom” is a classic solution in search of a problem. It is a diversion.

We should not fear our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. We should not damn them. And we should not offer protection to those who would discriminate against them any more than we would protect those who would discriminate based on race, or gender or age.

Our leaders should unite us in pursuit of the common goal of a better life. This law walks us back from that goal.

It is wrong.

We always pull for Mississippi to win. In this instance, we hope our leaders lose.

The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.

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