Mississippi governor asks court to uphold law on LGBT rights

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Mississippi Republican Gov. Phil Bryant is asking a federal appeals court to uphold a state law letting merchants and government employees cite religious beliefs to deny services to same-sex couples.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves blocked the law before it was to take effect July 1, ruling that it unconstitutionally establishes preferred beliefs and creates unequal treatment for LGBT people.

Law supporters say it is necessary to protect people who believe marriage can be between only a man and a woman, and those who believe a person’s gender is determined at birth and cannot be changed.

Mississippi Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood declined to appeal Reeves’ ruling. The governor’s appeal is instead being handled by private attorneys, including for a Christian legal group that helped write the law.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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