Advocates Stand with LGBTQ Mississippians as Nation’s Most Extreme Anti-LGBTQ Law Takes Effect

By Adam Polaski • October 10, 2017 • 12:40 pm

House Bill 1523, the nation’s most extreme anti-LGBTQ law, is now in effect across Mississippi. The measure went into effect after the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals’ dismissed a lower federal court ruling striking down the law as unconstitutional.

HB1523 specifically allows some residents with anti-LGBTQ beliefs to refuse service to married same-sex couples, people who have sex outside of marriage, and transgender people. Under this unprecedented religious refusal law, Mississippi state employees could refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, public school counselors could turn away LGBTQ or questioning youth in crisis, and health care providers could deny transgender people access to healthcare at any time, among just a few examples of potential discrimination.

The ACLU of Mississippi, Campaign for Southern Equality, Freedom for All Americans, Lambda Legal, the Human Rights Campaign, Mississippi Center for Justice, Mississippi Rising Coalition, and The Spectrum Center of Hattiesburg, MS released the following joint statement regarding today’s development:

“The nation’s most extreme anti-LGBTQ law is now in effect in Mississippi, and it will bring undeniable damage to the lives of thousands of Mississippians, paving the way for deep harm and discrimination. HB1523 allows some state government officials, healthcare providers, businesses, and employees to cite their personally held religious beliefs as a justification to discriminate against Mississippi residents and visitors. This is wrong.

“Although HB 1523 is now in effect in Mississippi, we will do everything we can to limit its consequences. We stand proudly with LGBTQ Mississippians, as well as their friends, families and allies who are committed to fighting this law and ensuring everyone can live their lives free from fear of state-sanctioned discrimination. We stand ready to challenge discrimination in all forms and where possible, and will bring lawsuits against those who discriminate against their LGBTQ neighbors and fellow Mississippians.”

Mississippi is home to 60,000 LGBT adults and an estimated 11,400 transgender youth and adults, according to 2016 data published by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. The state is also home to 3,500 same-sex couples, 29 percent of whom are raising children—the highest rate in the nation.

The legal team behind Barber v. Bryant is seeking review of the Fifth Circuit’s decision in the United States Supreme Court.


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