Lambda Legal Calls for Mississippi HB 1523 Records to Watchdog Against Discrimination

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June 30, 2016
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Today Lambda Legal announced that as part of its watchdog efforts as HB 1523 — Mississippi’s anti-LGBT law — takes effect tomorrow, it has sent demands to a dozen Mississippi government agencies and officials for records relating to the law and its impact.

Lambda Legal’s Help Desk stands on alert to respond to reports of discrimination as the law takes effect on July 1.

From Susan Sommer, National Director of Constitutional Litigation at Lambda Legal:

For weeks we have been issuing records requests to an array of state agencies to query government from the inside about how Mississippi HB 1523 is being implemented. We are looking at every feature of HB 1523 to track and respond to the full scope of this extreme law on LGBT Mississippians. Lambda Legal will regularly send additional requests to agencies as part of our effort to monitor the many ways HB1523 could be used to harm those it targets.

HB 1523, anti-LGBT legislation signed into law by Mississippi’s governor, purports to allow government officials and private businesses, individuals, and medical and social services agencies to discriminate against Mississippians based on religious and so-called “moral” objections to marriages of same-sex couples, non-marital sexual relationships and non-conformity with gender identity stereotypes.

Lambda Legal is tracking the multiple facets of HB 1523, including its targeting of transgender individuals who deserve to lead their lives without discrimination regardless of so-called moral objections to their existence, its potential effects on LGBT young people in foster care who face condemning anti-LGBT religious beliefs and practices by those who should be providing them with support and care, its permission to government officials to withhold marriage licenses, and its potential to undermine non-discrimination protections like those recently enacted by the city of Jackson.

Lambda Legal, along with co-counsel Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, has already requested and received documents from a number of Mississippi government offices, which include the Governor’s Office, Office of the Attorney General, Department of Human Services, State Board for Community and Junior Colleges, Department of Insurance, Department of Education, Department of Health, Board of Medical Licensure, State Board of Examiners for Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists, State Personnel Board, Administrative Office of Courts and Mississippi State University. These agencies are required by law to provide documents no later than seven working days from requests.

Sommer added:

HB 1523 never should have been enacted, and we hope its days are numbered.

We support and applaud the plaintiffs and lawyers in HB 1523 challenges already before federal District Court Judge Reeves. We stand ready to lend our aid to anyone who suffers under HB 1523 in the coming days. We expect justice will prevail for LGBT Mississippians.

Our Help Desk is on alert to hear from anyone facing discrimination.

Reas the press release.