Major Religious Freedom Law To Take Effect, Unless Supreme Court Acts

Supporters of gay marriage in Mississippi are planning to file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court in a last-ditch bid to stop a sweeping religious freedom law from taking effect next week.

House Bill 1523, also known as the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, was passed and signed into law last year. Its implementation was delayed after court challenges, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit has refused to keep delaying the law.

The measure is considered one of the most far-reaching state laws of its kind, after same-sex marriage became legal more than two years ago.

The law would protect court clerks who use religious objections to recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. It also would protect businesses who deny services to the LGBT community. Republican Gov. Phil Bryant says it aims protect those who fear being punished for their religious beliefs.