The Supreme Court refused to hear to challenges to a Mississippi law allowing state employees and private businesses to deny services to LGBT people based on religious objections. Photo by Erin Schaff/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 8 (UPI) -- The Supreme Court Monday left intact a Mississippi law allowing state employees and private businesses to deny services to LGBT people.
Justices turned away two appeals from state residents and organizations contending the law, which allows the denial of service to gay and transgender people due to religious objections, violates the Constitution.
Groups immediately challenged the law passed in 2016, a year after the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling, but lower courts ruled the plaintiffs couldn't show they would be harmed by the law.
The law allows county clerks to avoid issuing marriage licenses to LGBT couples and protects businesses and religious institutions from lawsuits if they refuse to serve LGBT people.
It also protects people who believe gender is an immutable characteristic determined at birth and those who object to sex out of wedlock.
Kevin Theriot of Alliance Defending Freedom, a law firm that helped defend the law, said the law's only purpose is guaranteeing "that Mississippians don't live in fear of losing their careers or their businesses simply for affirming marriage as a husband-wife union."
"Good laws like Mississippi's protect freedom and harm no one," Theriot said.
Gay rights groups and residents who have been denied service are expected to issue a new wave of challenges, possibly bringing it back to the Supreme Court's attention.
"We will keep fighting in Mississippi until we overturn this harmful law, and in any state where anti-gay legislators pass laws to roll back LGBT civil rights," Beth Littrell of Lambda Legal said. "Unfortunately, the Supreme Court's decision today leaves LGBT people in Mississippi in the crosshairs of hate and humiliation, delaying justice and equality."