Lambda Legal Condemns Passage of Anti-LGBT Mississippi Bill HB 1523

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April 5, 2016
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Jennifer C. Pizer

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant today signed HB 1523, an anti-LGBT bill that allows private businesses, individuals and medical and social services agencies to discriminate against anyone in Mississippi based on religious beliefs about marriage, premarital sexual relationships, and conformity with gender identity stereotypes.

Many thought after the massive blowback from the public, business leaders and even professional sports teams that top officials of Indiana, Georgia, Arizona and North Carolina all experienced after they passed similarly discriminatory anti-LGBT bills that Mississippi would have chosen to think twice.

Sadly, Mississippi legislators and Gov. Bryant have ignored the voices of reason and responsibility and have exposed many already terribly vulnerable in the state to yet more discrimination, abuse and violence.

We sincerely hope that, in Mississippi as elsewhere, business, civic, community and faith leaders will unite against this blatant invitation to discriminate and encourage Mississippi’s better angels to resist abuse of others in the cloak of piety.

It seems obvious that Mississippi’s leadership has not thought through HB 1523’s potential consequences for the state, such as loss of federal funding for education, medical care, and diverse social services including adoption and foster care programs. These are essential services for the state’s most vulnerable residents, and federal funding often comes with basic nondiscrimination requirements. 

This new law misguidedly aims to use religion to turn the clock back to a harsh time when women were shunned for premarital sex, gay people were shunned period, and transgender people had to remain in deepest hiding.  It defies core American values of equality, freedom and religious pluralism. It will not serve Mississippi well.

We  think this new law does not reflect the values of all the good people of Mississippi. We will continue to stand with LGBT people in Mississippi and all our friends and allies who believe in fairness and justice.