US Judge Says No to Freedom of Conscience In Mississippi

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Just minutes before a Mississippi law that promised protection for those opposed to same- sex marriage would have gone into effect, yet another Obama-appointed Federal judge ruled against the will of the majority.

Judge Carlton Wayne Reeves of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, in a 60-page ruling, said that state legislators created the law solely as what he called a  “vehicle for state-sanctioned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Judge Reeves, an Obama appointee, compared  the state’s argument that appealed to each state’s right to self-governance with a speech given by then-Governor Ross Barrnett in 1962 in his opposition to the integration of the University of Mississippi.

Lawyers for the state argued that the law did not infringe on the rights of gay or transgender people and that it did not favor a particular religious belief any more than standing laws protecting objectors.

Reeves disagreed in his ruling, saying that the Christian faith was being singled out for special protection and gays and lesbian for state condoned systematic discrimination.

Mississippi Governor, Phil Bryant said in a speech earlier this year that it is discrimination against Christians that prompted the bill in the first place. He told that audience that those who brought the suit against the state had cherry-picked  the issue hoping to discriminate against a sizable segment of the state’s population that held shared religious views of marriage.

Judge Reeves is no newcomer to circumventing the the shared values of a community. Last year, Mississippi Brandon High School marching band was ordered to leave the field during their halftime show  because it had chosen to include the Christian song “How Great Thou Art” as part of its performance. That was a violation of Judge Reeves  federal court order

One student sued the school district in 2013 over Christian meetings that had been held on school property. The school district settled that lawsuit later with an acknowledgment the student’s First Amendment rights had been violated.

When a Christian minister delivered a prayer at a school awards ceremony, Judge Reeves ruled the school district had violated its agreement. Judge Reeves ordered the district to pay thousands of dollars in fines. And warned that they would be fined $10,000 for each subsequent violation.

The judge’s ruling was based on his ruling that by stating three specific beliefs protected by the law, every other religious belief must be afforded the same protection. He further said that those who do not hold the same views as reflected in the law would become “second-class Christians” in the state.

As the New York Times was forced to later state, the law did not deny the right to gay marriage, but rather sought to protect those opposed to gay marriage.