Barber v. Bryant
GLAD filed an amicus brief in the case Barber v. Bryant, one of two cases challenging Mississippi’s so-called “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act.” The unfair law would give a free pass to any individual, organization, or corporation choosing to discriminate in a wide variety of public and private settings based upon their asserted beliefs that marriage can only be between a man and a woman; that sex can only take place within such a marriage; and that one's sex is determined at birth.
This unprecedented law may be a harbinger of more to come in other states. It represents a dangerous paradigm shift. The law empowers those who religiously or morally oppose LGBTQ people or their marriages to act or speak against LGBTQ people with the approval of the government. GLAD's brief, written with Ropes & Gray, addresses equal protection issues. We argue that the law cannot allow discrimination based on one's beliefs about a class of people. We also state that this law goes far beyond what conscience-protecting laws have allowed in the past, and far beyond simple opposition to marriage equality. The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and the ALCU also worked on the brief.
The Barber case also raises establishment clause issues, which other amici briefs address. A federal district court judge prevented the law from going into effect in the summer of 2016, and the State of Mississippi appealed that ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, where the amicus brief was filed. Read GLAD’s brief here.