Despite the backlash over similar bills in Georgia and North Carolina, the Mississippi Governor has, sadly, signed the anti-LGBT bill into law.
Now, we have heard a lot about the various bills floating around, one of which was vetoed in Georgia and one in North Carolina which was also sadly signed into law. But Mississippi’s House Bill 1523 is the worst of them all.
It essentially permits people to discriminate based on sexual orientation “any employment-related decision” and “any decision concerning the sale, rental, [or] occupancy of a dwelling” as long as it’s based on “sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction” . Basically, I can fire you, refuse to sell/rent to you, or even kick you out of your home because of a “sincerely held religious belief”.
The bill doesn’t stop there, though. It also bans the state from taking any action against a business or person “on the basis that the person has provided or declined to provide [services]” to LGBT people. So you cannot fight against the discrimination received through legal means.
Despite the horrid reach of this bill, it was signed into law by Phil Bryant, the Governor of Mississippi.
He said, when speaking of the new law: “I have signed HB 1523 into law to protect sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions of individuals, organizations and private associations from discriminatory action by state government or its political subdivisions, which would include counties, cities and institutions of higher learning. This bill merely reinforces the rights which currently exist to the exercise of religious freedom as stated in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”
“This bill does not limit any constitutionally protected rights or actions of any citizen of this state under federal or state laws. It does not attempt to challenge federal laws, even those which are in conflict with the Mississippi Constitution, as the Legislature recognizes the prominence of federal law in such limited circumstances. The legislation is designed in the most targeted manner possible to prevent government interference in the lives of the people from which all power to the state is derived.”
The bill also says that marriage “is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman” and also says that transgender people are to be considered by the gender they were assigned at birth, rather than their gender identity.
“Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.”
Naturally, there has already been criticism of the bill, and given how it goes against the SCOTUS ruling, the state could have a costly legal battle on their hands.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi had this to say: “This is a sad day for the state of Mississippi and for the thousands of Mississippians who can now be turned away from businesses, refused marriage licenses, or denied housing, essential services and needed care based on who they are. This bill flies in the face of the basic American principles of fairness, justice and equality and will not protect anyone’s religious liberty. Far from protecting anyone from ‘government discrimination’ as the bill claims, it is an attack on the citizens of our state, and it will serve as the Magnolia State’s badge of shame.”
Chad Griffin, the President of the Human Rights Campaign, also chimed in: “Gov Phil Bryant adds his name to a list of disgraced Southern governors by signing this hateful and discriminatory bill into law. Governor Bryant refused to meet with LGBT people and even turned us away at the door of his office. He refused to listen to business leaders. He refused to listen to Mississippians. And now his state will suffer because of his ignorance and failure of leadership. Just as we’re doing elsewhere, we will continue to rally fair-minded voters, businesses, and civil rights advocates to repeal.”
This is truly a sad day for the state of Mississippi and it’s citizens.