WASHINGTON — The federal judge in Mississippi who halted enforcement of the state's new anti-LGBT religious exemption law declined on Monday to put his ruling on hold while the state appeals the ruling.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant had asked US District Court Judge Carlton Reeves to issue a stay of his preliminary injunction order during the appeal. If granted, the state would have allowed the state to enforce the law during its appeal of the ruling against the law.
Bryant signed the bill, HB 1523, into law on April 5. The bill provided protections for individuals, religious organizations, and certain businesses who take actions due to their “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions” regarding same-sex marriage — or any sex outside straight marriage. It also provided similar protections for those who object to transgender people.
In dismissing the state's argument for why a stay should be granted — and reiterating that he believed the plaintiffs would ultimately succeed in their challenge to the law — Reeves was abrupt.
"[I]ssuing a marriage license to a gay couple is not like being forced into armed combat or to assist with an abortion. Matters of life and death are sui generis. If movants truly believe that providing services to LGBT citizens forces them to 'tinker with the machinery of death,' their animus exceeds anything seen in Romer, Windsor, or the marriage equality cases," he wrote — referencing the US Supreme Court's earlier gay rights cases.
"The motions are denied," Reeves wrote in Monday's order. "The baton is now passed."
Bryant already has asked the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to grant a stay of Reeves' order.