JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Emails disclosed in a lawsuit over a blocked Mississippi law that would allow people and businesses to discriminate against LGBT people show a Christian legal group asked Gov. Phil Bryant to institute the “protections” through an executive order in 2015.
The emails were filed in court this week by opponents who persuaded a federal judge to block the law before it went into effect. The plaintiffs say the emails show House Bill 1523 “improperly and unconstitutionally reflects the sectarian Christian values” of the Alliance Defending Freedom and other supporters.
Emails show the alliance also offered public relations advice to Bryant and drafted the statement the Republican governor issued explaining why he signed the bill into law. Bryant declined to answer questions from The Associated Press on Friday, sending only a statement.
“We appreciate the Alliance Defending Freedom working with the Legislature to draft House Bill 1523,” Bryant said. “It is perfectly normal for our office to work with individuals and organizations, who have had a role in requesting and/or opposing legislation, during the bill review process to gather additional information.”
U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves blocked the law less than an hour before it would have taken effect July 1. Bryant and Department of Human Services Executive Director John Davis are appealing, represented in part by the Washington, D.C.-based alliance, and have asked Reeves to let the law take effect in the meantime. Opponents have asked Reeves to leave his preliminary injunction in effect during any appeal, saying Bryant hasn’t shown any proof his appeal will succeed.
“If allowed to go into effect, HB 1523 will cause sweeping harm to some of the most vulnerable members of society,” wrote Roberta Kaplan, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs.