Federal court upholds measure protecting Mississippi Christians but battle is not over

A federal appeals court has upheld a measure that protects Christians in Mississippi who oppose same-sex marriage and ensures that they will not be compelled to act against their sincerely held religious beliefs. However, the battle is not over.

(REUTERS / Javier Galeano)Same-sex couples Todd (L), and Jeff Delmay walk along with Catherina Pareto and Karla Arguello (R) after obtaining their marriage licenses in Miami, Florida, January 5, 2015.

On June 22, a three-judge panel at the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Mississippi's 2016 Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, ensuring protection for Christians and other individuals who do not agree with same-sex marriage. The decision overruled District Judge Carlton Reeves' move to prevent the law's implementation, Life Site News reported.

According to the three-judge panel, those who oppose the measure failed to illustrate how those in favor of same-sex marriage would be harmed if they let people who are against it to live according to their sincerely held beliefs. Still, all appeals will have to be exhausted first before the law is formally implemented.

And so the battle against the Mississippi law continues, as attorneys for gay and straight plaintiffs filed papers on July 6 and said the measure ostracized them, ABC News relayed.

"HB 1523 is offensive to the rights of LGBT and other dissenting Mississippians and to the Supreme Court's command on this burning civil rights issue," the plaintiffs said in their papers.

The 2016 law was written with the help of the Alliance Defending Freedom legal team. In a statement, ADF counsel Kevin Theriot explained that the law was formulated to make sure that Mississippi residents will not fear losing their jobs or businesses just because they stood up for their belief that marriage is a union between a husband and a wife.

Aside from protecting belief in the traditional definition of marriage, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant had two other reasons for signing the law in 2016. He wanted to protect the belief that sex should happen only within the boundaries of marriage and the belief that gender cannot be changed after birth.