Kaplan & Company, LLP Files Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the Supreme Court in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant

By: 
Robbie Kaplan and Joshua Matz
Published on:
October 30th, 2017
Petitioner Rev. Susan Hrostowski, an episcopal priest and an associate professor at the University of Southern Mississippi. (Photo by Imani Khayyam/Jackson Free Press)

Kaplan & Company, LLP has filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the Supreme Court of United States in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant.

Petitioners are the Campaign for Southern Equality, an organization whose members hold different religious faiths and beliefs but who all share the conviction that the marriages of LGBT people have equal dignity as those of straight couples; and The Reverend Dr. Susan Hrostowski, an Episcopal priest, married lesbian, and vicar of St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church in Collins, Mississippi.

In 2016, nearly a year after Obergefell v. Hodges legalized same-sex marriage in all fifty states, Governor Phil Bryant of Mississippi signed HB 1523 into law.  HB 1523, also known as the “Religious Liberty Accommodations Act,” protects individuals and entities who act “based upon or in a manner consistent” with the following three religious beliefs:

  1. Marriage should be recognized only between one man and one woman;
  2. Sexual relations are “properly reserved” to such a marriage; and
  3. The terms male and female refer to “immutable biological sex” as determined by anatomy and genetics at birth.

HB 1523 then allows individuals and businesses to discriminate against LGBT people a wide variety of different contexts, including allowing school guidance counselors to refuse to counsel a student; a doctor (notwithstanding professional standards and state regulations) to refuse to treat a patient in certain situations which include psychological, counseling, and fertility services; and state employees to refuse to serve same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses and ceremonies.

In 2016, our clients successfully sued to enjoin HB 1523’s enforcement on Establishment Clause grounds. However, in 2017, a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed the district court’s decision on standing without reaching the merits. Petitioners petitioned for rehearing en banc, but the petition was denied, with Judge James L. Dennis, joined by Judge James E. Graves, Jr., dissenting. HB 1523 went into effect throughout Mississippi on October 9, 2017.

Today, CSE and Rev. Hrostowski appealed the Fifth Circuit’s decision to the United States Supreme Court. 

Read the full petition HERE