A federal judge is expected to rule on whether HB 1523 is unconstitutional in a matter of days. As MPB's Desare Frazier reports the law is due to take effect Friday.
U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves heard two lawsuits that argue HB1523 is unconstitutional. Attorneys opposed to the law want to stop if from taking effect July 1st. HB1523 allows clerks to recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples based on their religious beliefs. But they must ensure licenses are provided. Attorney Roberta Kaplan with Campaign for Southern Equality says the statue violates the 1st Amendment separation of church and state.
"I think we have a long tradition in this country of the government not wading into religious beliefs and religious debates and that's exactly what HB 1523 does," said Kaplan.
Lawyers with the state attorney general's office say the law accommodates people's religious beliefs and no same sex couple has been denied a marriage license. The law allows businesses to deny services based on religious beliefs, such as housing, employment, counseling and adoption services. Rev. Susan Hrostowski is in a same sex marriage and has a son. She testified HB 1523 doesn't respect the dignity of all people.
"We've already seen cases of people being denied housing. There's a woman on the coast who someone thought she was gay just because of the way she looked, even though she wasn't, and kicked her out of the restaurant," said Hrostowski.
Judge Carlton Reeves peppered attorneys on both sides with questions about the law's potential impact. Attorney Roberta Kaplan says no matter what the judge rules, there will be appeals in the cases.