JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – A federal appeals court says Mississippi can start enforcing a law that will let merchants and government employees cite religious beliefs to deny services to same-sex couples.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday reversed a judge’s decision that had blocked the law before it could take effect last July.
U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves had ruled that the law unconstitutionally establishes preferred beliefs and creates unequal treatment for LGBT people.
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant and other supporters say the law protects beliefs that marriage can be between only a man and a woman, and that a person’s gender is determined at birth and cannot be changed.
Gay and straight plaintiffs who sued the state say the law gives “special protections to one side” in a religious debate.
(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)