ACLU sues Mississippi over religious freedom law
© Getty Images
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its Mississippi chapter on Monday filed a lawsuit challenging a state law that allows businesses to deny services to same-sex couples based on religious beliefs.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, says the bill is "unconstitutional on its face."
"By creating a separate and unequal set of laws applying only to the marriages of same-sex couples, HB 1523 imposes a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all married same-sex couples in Mississippi," the suit says.
The ACLU of Mississippi said in a tweet that the organization is "using all avenues available to us to ensure that rights are protected here in Mississippi."
In another tweet, the ACLU of Mississippi said, "This law makes us feel like 2nd class citizens. We should be treated the same as everyone else. Our love should be respected just the same."
The suit was filed on behalf of a gay couple, Nykolas Allen and Stephen Thomas, who are planning to get married within the next three years. The law would give them and other same-sex couples "a unique set of burdens that are not inflicted on marriages of different-sex couples," according to the lawsuit
Josh Block, an ACLU staff attorney, said the group wants to "stop as much of [the bill] as possible."
“At a time when we’re supposed to be excited as a couple engaged to be married, this law permits discrimination against us simply because of who we are,” Allen and Thomas, members of the ACLU of Mississippi, said in a statement, according to The Washington Post
“This is not the Mississippi we’re proud to call home. We’re hopeful others will come to realize this and not allow this harmful measure to become law.”
The lawsuit comes on the same day that North Carolina filed a suit against the federal government to keep in place its controversial bathroom law, which requires transgender people to use the bathroom that matches their biological sex.
That lawsuit came after the Department of Justice sent a letter to North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) that said the law violated the Civil Rights Act.