ACLU files lawsuit to challenge constitutionality of religious f

ACLU files lawsuit to challenge constitutionality of religious freedom law

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT

As predicted by some state lawmakers, the passage of House Bill 1523 last month has now prompted a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of a same-sex couple from Mississippi.

"We're going to stand, and we have stood by filing a lawsuit today in defense of freedom for all Mississippians," said Jennifer Riley Collins, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi.

The 10-page complaint, filed in U.S. District Court, calls House Bill 1523 unconstitutional and it imposes a disadvantage, a stigma upon all married same-sex couples in the Magnolia State.

"House Bill 1523 sets up a scheme in the state of Mississippi to provide unequal treatment to citizens of this state. It in essence sets up a separate but unequal system of registering for a marriage license in this state," said former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz, who also serves as a legal expert on the case.

Neither Gov. Phil Bryant nor the state of Mississippi has been directly sued, though; instead, that falls to the state's registrar of vital records, Judy Moulder.

Diaz said that's because Moulder would be the one to compile a list of those circuit clerks who wouldn't issue same-sex marriage licenses because of their beliefs.

"Simply setting up that scheme in the state of Mississippi is setting up an unconstitutional scheme for the state to operate under," Diaz said.

For the case's two plaintiffs, Nykolas Alford and Stephen Thomas, it's personal.

"I don't like [people saying], 'Well, if you don't like it, you can just leave,'" Alford said.

They told reporters Monday they don't want to be discriminated against in their home state.

"Why would anyone stay in the state of Mississippi? Because it's our home, and we have a right to be treated equally in the state of Mississippi, regardless of whether you're gay, straight, brown, black, white...we all have the right to be treated the same," Collins said.

Bryant issued a statement Monday afternoon, criticizing the ACLU's participation.

"The ACLU continues its mission of trying to use the federal court system to push its liberal agenda. Instead of cherry-picking causes popular with the radical left, the ACLU should allocate its resources defending all civil liberties," Bryant said.

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