Approximately 300 people march in front of the Governor’s Mansion protesting the Mississippi law allowing religious groups and some private businesses to deny services to same-sex couples and transgender people.


In April 2016, Gov. Phil Bryant signed House Bill 1523, also known as the religious objections law. A flurry of lawsuits followed, and that June, a federal court struck down the law moments before it was set to take effect with a blistering verdict that drew parallels between the law and Jim Crow legislation.

Bryant appealed the decision that summer, and one year later, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the controversial law, saying plaintiffs had yet to prove that it had harmed anyone.

Plaintiffs quickly requested a new hearing before a full panel of judges. But on Sept. 29, their request was denied. A few days later the Fifth Circuit also denied plaintiffs request for a stay, finally opening the door—after a tumultuous 18 months—for the bill to take effect in Mississippi.

Here is a look back at Mississippi Today’s reporting on key events:

Gov. Bryant signs controversial religious freedom bill into law

New York’s Mississippi Picnic canceled as response to religious freedom law

NCAA may shut out Mississippi

ACLU suit equates “religious freedom” law to Jim Crow legislation

Mississippi’s ‘religious freedom’ law drafted out of state

Local schools speak up about HB1523, transgender issue

Same-sex marriage judge draws all three ‘religious freedom’ lawsuits

Attorney General’s office drowning in anti-1523 lawsuits

Witness: HB 1523 makes state unsafe for gays

Witness testifies HB 1523 is the Christian right’s challenge to gay freedoms

Federal judge blocks HB 1523

Emails show behind the scenes activity around HB 1523

Gov. Bryant appeals HB 1523 ruling alone, breaking with other defendants

Judge denies governor’s request for a stay on HB 1523

Sanderson Farms says HB 1523 “does nothing but hurt” economy

Bryant slams anti-HB 1523 arguments as ‘false, exaggerated’

Appellate judges in Texas could resurrect Mississippi’s ‘religious freedom’ law

Justices push past passionate arguments in HB 1523 hearing

‘Religious freedom’ law upheld by federal appeals court

Plaintiffs ask full Fifth Circuit to rehear case against HB 1523

HB 1523: Reactions to the decision upholding the religious objections law

In reviewing HB 1523, will Fifth Circuit return to its radical roots?

‘Religious freedom law,’ House Bill 1523, will take effect Oct. 6; appeal planned

HB 1523 ruling spurs federal judge to revisit gay marriage case


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Sereena Henderson managed Mississippi Today’s social media and reported on Mississippi culture from August 2016 until June 2020. She was also a member of the engagement team and curated and delivered the daily newsletter. Sereena, a native of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, is a graduate of the Ole Miss School of Journalism and New Media.