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Mississippi Appeals Court: Faith-Based Business Owners Not Required to Service Gay Weddings

In what appears to be a case of a court in America pushing back against the bevy of laws and rulings that now make it illegal for businesses to refuse service on the basis of opposition to gay marriage on religious grounds, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of a Mississippi law designed to protect those who do that very thing.

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According to the unanimous decision reached by the panel, the plaintiffs in the case lacked the legal standing to sue Mississippi. The ruling reverses a lower-court decision issued last summer by Judge Carlton W. Reeves, a U.S. District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern

District of Mississippi, who said the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, as the law is officially known, is a “a vehicle for state-sanctioned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

However, in this most recent decision, Circuit Judge Jerry Smith, writing on behalf of the panel, said, “The governor of Mississippi and the executive director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services appeal a preliminary injunction. Because the plaintiffs do not have standing, we reverse the injunction and render a judgment of dismissal.”

For his part, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, issued a statement last week calling the latest ruling an example of “commonsense law.”

“No person should be punished by the government with crippling fines or face disqualification for simply believing what President Obama believed until five years ago, that marriage is the union of a man and a woman,” Perkins said.

By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large

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