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Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant & Barber v. Bryant

Case Challenging Anti-LGBTQ Law HB1523 in Mississippi

Key Date: January 8, 2018
Status: Case Resolved; SCOTUS Denied Certiorari
Legal Team: Campaign for Southern Equality, Lambda Legal & Mississippi Center for Justice
Type: Anti-LGBT Laws

Case Overview:

Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant and Barber v. Bryant are legal cases challenging House Bill 1523 in Mississippi, the most extreme anti-LGBTQ law in the country. The law allows Mississippi officials, state employees, and private individuals who hold certain religious beliefs to deny a wide array of services to LGBT individuals.

HB1523 allows public employees, service providers, and business owners in Mississippi to deny treatment, services, and goods to LGBT individuals on the basis of three specific religious beliefs:

  1. that marriage can only be between a man and a woman;
  2. that sexual intercourse is properly reserved to such a marriage; and
  3. that sex is an immutable characteristic that is assigned at birth and cannot change.

In effect, the law allows people to cite these three specific beliefs (opposing marriage for same-sex couples, objecting to sex outside of any marriage, and denying the very existence of transgender people) as an excuse for discrimination.

Latest in the Case:

The 5th Circuit panel heard oral argument in the case in April 2017, marking the first time any federal appellate court in the country has heard arguments on an anti-LGBT state law since January 2015, when the 5th Circuit heard argument in cases seeking the freedom to marry out of Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, including a case brought by the Campaign for Southern Equality. The three-judge panel consisted of Judge Elrod, Judge Smith, and Judge Haynes.

The three-judge panel found that the plaintiffs in the case lack legal standing to officially challenge the law and that the lower court ruling should be reversed and the case dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Plaintiffs sought  en banc review from the 5th Circuit, but the request was denied on September 29, 2017. The law took effect on October 10, 2017.

Lambda Legal petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for review the same day, and the Campaign for Southern Equality filed its own petition for Supreme Court review shortly after. The Supreme Court denied review of the cases on January 8, 2018.

Case History:

  • June 22, 2017: U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit finds that the plaintiffs in the case lack legal standing to officially challenge the law and that the lower court ruling, a stunning and powerful rebuke to anti-LGBT religious exemptions, should be reversed and the case dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
  • July 6, 2017: The Campaign for Southern Equality and Lambda Legal seek en banc review from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • September 29, 2017: The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals denies the request for en banc review, meaning the anti-LGBTQ law is set to take effect October 10.
  • October 10, 2017: As the anti-LGBTQ law takes effect, the plaintiffs in Barber petition the U.S. Supreme Court for review.
  • November 3, 2017: Plaintiffs in Campaign for Southern Equality v Bryant also file petition for U.S. Supreme Court review.
  • January 5, 2018: U.S. Supreme Court conferences on petitions in both Campaign for Southern Equality and Barber.
  • January 8, 2018: U.S. Supreme Court denies review in the cases.

Last Updated December 29, 2017


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