Tenleytown citizens on Friday showed their support for U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves’ blocking of a Mississippi law that would have made religious beliefs an acceptable reason to deny LGBT persons in that state basic services.
Reeves ruled on June 30–the day before it was to take effect–that the law, House Bill 1523, violates lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens’ rights.
“It’s not right to deny people services because they are gay or transgender,” said Tracy Watson, 47. “It’s a basic human condition. It’s fundamental to who we are. There’s no reason except for age-old prejudices for such discrimination.”
The bill would have allowed landlords to evict LGBT people, companies to fire them, businesses to refuse services, doctors to refuse help and clerks to deny marriage licenses.
“Being denied services makes them feel like their sexuality or gender identity alienates them from the rest of human life,” said Emma Wallenbrock, a 15-year-old eating lunch in Tenleytown. “This goes against the ideals that our nation was founded.
Sofia Baneth, a 21-year-old American University student, agreed.
“Services are a 100% unalienable right. It isn’t harming anyone else,” Baneth said.
Reeves said in his 60-page opinion that the Mississippi law violates the 14th Amendment, although lawmakers who favored the bill claimed it promoted religious liberty and protected patrons who are anti-LGBT due to their religious beliefs.
Bretton Caws, 21, who attends American University, said separation of Church and State is a fundamental American issue.
“You can’t pick and choose who gets rights and who doesn’t,” Caws said.