Governor: Opponents hope Mississippi is hurt by LGBT law

Opponents say they plan future appeals. File photo.

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Republican Gov. Phil Bryant said Friday that opponents are "desperately hoping" Mississippi will be hurt by a law that would let business people and government workers cite religious beliefs to deny some services to same-sex couples.

His comments came a day after a federal appeals court lifted an injunction that has blocked the state's "religious objections" law from taking effect for nearly a year.

Speaking of the law's opponents, Bryant said: "They hope something bad will happen to the state of Mississippi. They're desperately hoping for that, and I would hope that perhaps they can assuage that anger."

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel did not rule on constitutional questions of the law, which started as House Bill 1523 . Rather, judges said the gay and straight plaintiffs who sued the state have not shown they would be harmed by the law.

Opponents say they plan further appeals, which could indefinitely delay the law from taking effect.

Legal experts say the Mississippi law is the broadest religious-objections measure enacted by any state since legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide.

The bill aims to protect three beliefs: marriage is only between a man and a woman; sex should only take place in such a marriage; and a person's gender is determined at birth and cannot be altered. It would allow clerks to cite religious objections to recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and would protect merchants who refuse services to LGBT people. It could affect adoptions and foster care, business practices and school bathroom policies.

Legislators and Bryant have been praised by conservative religious groups who say the bill protects people from compromising their deeply held beliefs. Liberal religious groups, gay-rights advocates and several corporations have said the bill could lead to widespread discrimination. Multiple lawsuits were filed against the state.

Bryant took questions from reporters Friday in Jackson after he spoke at a social workers' meeting.

By Emily Wagster Pettus with contributions by Jeff Amy.
Copyright Associated Press. The Gayly - 6/23/2017 @ 4:00 p.m. CST