Laws have been passed or proposed on the state and federal level which privilege anti-LGBT religious beliefs and give legal protection to anti-LGBT discrimination. Under the so-called First Amendment Defense Act introduced in the House of Representatives (HR 2802), federal employees or contractors could refuse service to LGBT citizens or terminate LGBT employees if they professed a religious belief that LGBT people should not be permitted to marry, or that sexual relations outside heterosexual marriage are improper. HR 2802 ironically defines “discriminatory action” as any action taken by the government against a person who discriminates against LGBT people. In 2016, Mississippi passed a nearly identical law: HB 1523. A federal court issued a preliminary injunction enjoining its enforcement. Even if HB 1523 is struck down, it is unlikely to be the last word in the use of claimed “religious freedom” as a means to oppose LGBT equality. This panel, which included attorneys taking part in the HB 1523 litigation, discussed the legal issues raised by HB 1523, and had a spirited conversation about what might come next.
MODERATOR: David Thompson, Stecklow & Thompson, NYC
J. Dalton Courson, Stone Pigman, NOLA;
Robert McDuff, McDuff & Byrd, Jackson, MS;
Alysson Leigh Mills, Fishman Haygood, NOLA.