For the third year in a row, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves is declaring the month of April as Confederate Heritage Month, keeping a tradition alive that his predecessors began 29 years ago. “April is the month when, in 1861, the American Civil War began between the Confederate and Union armies, reportedly the costliest and deadliest war ever fought on American soil,” the proclamation says. It notes that the last Monday of April is also Confederate Memorial Day in Mississippi.
Reeves appeared on Fox News on April 29, 2021, and claimed that “there is not systemic racism in America”
A mixed race couple was turned away from Boone’s Camp Event Hall when the owner of the Booneville, Miss., after the business sent them a message: They would not be allowed to get married at the venue after all “because of (the venue’s) beliefs.”
When the groom’s sister LaKambria Welch heard the news that her brother, who is black, would not be allowed to rent the venue to marry his fiancée, who is a white woman, she drove to the venue herself. There, she filmed an encounter with a woman who works for Boone’s Camp
“First of all, we don’t do gay weddings or mixed race, because of our Christian race—I mean, our Christian belief,” the woman tells Welch in the video.
“Okay, we’re Christians as well,” Welch replies.
“Yes ma’am,” the woman says.
“So, what in the Bible tells you that—?,” Welch beings to ask, before getting cut off by the apparent Boone’s camp employee.
“Well, I don’t want to argue my faith,” the woman says.“No, that’s fine,” Welch replies.
“We just don’t participate,” the woman says.
“Okay,” Welch responds.
“We just choose not to,” the woman continues.
“Okay. So that’s your Christian belief, right?,” Welch asks.
Welch says she believes the venue found out her brother and his fiancée, whose names she has not provided to DSV, through Facebook.
“The owner took a look at my brother’s fiancée’s page and wrote her back to say they won’t be able to get married there because of her beliefs, He told my mom and she contacted the owner through messenger to only get a ‘seen’ with no reply. That’s when I took it upon myself to go get clarification on her beliefs.”
Katelynn Springsteen, also claims the venue refused to offer its services to a lesbian couple last year.
“I was trying to find my best friend, who is lesbian, a wedding venue. I was immediately shot down when I was asked if they were okay with a gay wedding,” Springsteen said.
The U.S. Supreme Court left intact a Mississippi law that lets businesses and government workers refuse on religious grounds to provide services to gay and transgender people. The justices turned away two appeals by state residents and organizations that contended the measure violates the Constitution. A federal appeals court said the opponents hadn’t suffered any injury that would let them press their claims in court.
The Mississippi fight in some ways represented the flip side of a Colorado case the high court is currently considering; the question in that instance is whether the state can require a baker who sells wedding cakes to make one for a same-sex couple’s wedding. The Mississippi law, by contrast, gives priority to religious rights. The state enacted its law less than a year after the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
Let the negative Mississippi business and tourism-destroying Yelp reviews commence!
A U.S. Federal appeals court on Thursday lifted an injunction that blocked a Mississippi law allowing businesses and government employees to deny services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people by citing religious beliefs.
A three-judge panel at the New Orleans-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed a lower court ruling that blocked the 2016 law, known as House Bill 1523 and backed by extremist Christian groups, from taking effect.
The panel said the plaintiffs, who included ordained ministers who have married same-sex couples and same-sex couples seeking to marry, did not have standing to bring the lawsuit.
“None of these plaintiffs has clearly shown an injury-in-fact,” said the panel, which did not rule on the merits of the law.
A federal judge blocked the Mississippi law in July of 2016, saying it unconstitutionally allowed “arbitrary discrimination” against the LGBT community and unmarried people..
Under HB 1523, anyone who acts upon religious beliefs receives total immunity from legal action. Landlords may evict gay and trans renters. Employers may fire LGBTQ workers. Private and state-run adoption agencies can turn away same-sex couples. Clerks and judges can refuse to marry same-sex couples. A doctor can refuse to counsel or treat an LGBT patient. And private businesses can refuse to serve LGBT people if doing so somehow involves “recognition of” a same-sex marriage. A gay couple who attempts to celebrate their anniversary with a nice dinner in Mississippi can be lawfully ejected from the restaurant if the owner cites it goes against his “religious beliefs”.
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, a Republican who signed HB 1523 into law in April 2016, applauded Thursday’s ruling.
“As I have said all along, the legislation is not meant to discriminate against anyone, but simply prevents government interference with the constitutional right to exercise sincerely held religious beliefs,” Bryant said in a statement.
“This law is among the very worst in the nation,” said Susan Sommer, director of constitutional litigation at Lambda Legal, and lawyer for the plaintiffs said they would likely seek further judicial review, either before the full Fifth Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court.
Although passed over nine years ago, authorities have been lacking in the use or prosecution under The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, also known as the Matthew Shepard Act. But that is about to change.
Joshua Vallum, 27, of Mississippi who pleaded guilty Wednesday for the hate crime of the murder of his ex-girlfriend Mercedes Williamson (pictured left), a transgender teenager will be the landmark first prosecution under the federal hate crimes law.
Vallum stabbed Villiamson multiple times with a military knife and beat her with a claw hammer until “the screaming stopped”, according to Alabama.com.
According to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Vallum was well aware of Williamson’s transgender identity prior to the crime, making him subject to prosecution under the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. For this reason, although Vallum had previously pleaded guilty to the charge of first-degree murder. Because Mississippi does not have a statute that protects people from bias crimes based on gender identity, the federal government was able to bring federal hate crime charges.
Vallum claimed he only learned about Williamson’s transgender identity upon commission of the crime, but details emerged that showed that he knew almost a year before he had dated her. Vallum also admitted that he would not have killed her if she were not transgender.
“Our nation’s hate crime statutes advance one of our fundamental beliefs, that no one should have to live in fear because of who they are,” US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement. “Today’s landmark guilty plea reaffirms that basic principle, and it signals the Justice Department’s determination to combat hate crimes based on gender identity.”
Intensely homophobic Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant on Thursday filed a notice that he will be appealing the federal judge’s ruling that stopped implementation and enforcement of the state’s recently passed anti-LGBT religious exemption law House Bill 1523.
Bryant also filed papers Thursday asking the judge, U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves, to put the preliminary injunction on hold during his appeal of the ruling.
The filings are signed by Bryant’s chief counsel, Drew Snyder, who entered a formal appearance as Bryant’s counsel on Thursday, after Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, had said that his office was “inclined” to appeal the ruling. A spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on whether Hood’s a absence on Thursday was evidence that he had reached a decision not to appeal.
Judge Carlton Reeves ruled the law not only violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection provisions but also the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Below are the best lines from Judge Reeve’s ruling.
*In physics, every action has its equal and opposite reaction. In politics, every action has its predictable overreaction. Politicians reacted to the Hawaiian proceedings with DOMA and mini-DOMAs. Lawrence and Goodridge birthed the state constitutional amendments. And now Obergefell has led to HB 1523. The next chapter of this back-and-forth has begun.
*Nothing in the plaintiffs’ briefs, oral argument, or testimony indicates that they expect a favorable ruling to change the hearts and minds of Mississippians opposed to same-sex marriage, transgender equality, or sex before marriage. They simply ask the Court to enjoin the enforcement of a state law that both permits arbitrary discrimination based on those characteristics and endorses the majority’s favored religious beliefs.
*The title, text, and history of HB 1523 indicate that the bill was the State’s attempt to put LGBT citizens back in their place after Obergefell. The majority of Mississippians were granted special rights to not serve LGBT citizens, and were immunized from the consequences of their actions. LGBT Mississippians, in turn, were “put in a solitary class with respect to transactions and relations in both the private and governmental spheres” to symbolize their second-class status
Finally, religious freedom has its limits — when it harms others:
*The critical lesson is that religious accommodations must be considered in the context of their impact on others.
A federal judge has halted Mississippi’s anti-LGBT religious exemption law HB 1523 from going into effect mere minute before it was set to begin.
“Under the guise of providing additional protection for religious exercise, it creates a vehicle for state-sanctioned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,” U.S. District Court Carlton Reeves wrote of the law. “It is not rationally related to a legitimate end.”
The anti-LGBT law would have provided protections for individuals, religious organizations, and certain businesses who take actions due to their “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions” to same-sex marriage — or any sex outside straight marriage. It also provided protections for those who object to transgender people.
“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,” Reeves wrote in the Thursday night decision. “That violates both the guarantee of religious neutrality and the promise of equal protection of the laws.”.
Unknown to many outside the state the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi regularly distributes fliers with hateful messages.
Shortly after the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida that killed 49 and wounded 51 members of the LGBT community and their allies a Ku Klux Klan flyer began to appear at homes in Gautier and Ocean Springs, along the Gulf Coast over the weekend titled Boycott 101,”which talked about other states boycott of Mississippi over its harsh new anti-gay law and said among other things: “Don’t let the outside immoral crowds and their news media get your butt in a bind. We will never bow to homosexuality and bestiality or other unnatural sexual perversions that go against the laws of nature and GOD.”
Brent Waller, who identifies as the Imperial Wizard of the aforementioned KKK group, said it’s his right to distribute that hate, despite protestations from locals, and that locals can expect more to come.
“I got the same right under the First Amendment to pass out pamphlets and literature just the same as the newspaper does,” Waller told the Hattiesburg American.
Waller said they’re legal because “no one’s being targeted.”
“There’s some things about gays, but there’s also some things about blacks and we’re coming out with one on Muslims next week,” Waller said.
Waller said he’s just speaking on behalf of the state’s majority white population.
“We’re the Klan that’s been here since the Civil War,” Waller said. “We have long been the voice for the white right wing. People may not like our views, but we are entitled to them. We’re really going to get the message out this summer,” he said. “As long as we’re not using any inflammatory or hate-type material in our fliers we’re OK.”
A gay couple who found the flier in their driveway and have filed a police report, and additionally planned to contact the FBI and Southern Poverty Law Center.
The recently adopted laws including in the states of Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee, which discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons in the United States contravene the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the US is a State party, and which states that the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection.
As a consequence, cultural, traditional or religious values cannot be invoked to justify any form of discrimination, including discrimination against LGBTI persons. These laws should be reconsidered as soon as possible.
The European Union reaffirms its commitment to the equality and dignity of all human beings irrespective of their sexual orientation and gender identity. We will continue to work to end all forms of discrimination and to counter attempts to embed or enhance discrimination wherever it occurs around the world.”
Singer/Songwriter and Miley’s dad, Billy Ray Cyrus has joined the ranks of artists who have spoken out against anti-LGBT laws in Mississippi and North Carolina in recent weeks.
“I would feel negligent to not speak up,” Cyrus wrote in a Facebook post. Cyrus then referenced Bryan Adams’ announcement that he wouldn’t play shows in Mississippi after the state passed a law that outlaws the punishment of people who discriminate against others based on sexual orientation, and his daughter, Miley Cyrus, who has been an outspoken LGBT advocate. “In light of my good friend, Bryan Adams, taking a stand and my daughter having been on the ground floor of this movement, this issue is very important to me.”
He continued, “As a friend and dad… I’ve witnessed this fight from the very beginning. I think everyone should be treated equal. We’ve come too far; we can’t mess this up.”