SHAMEFUL: Mississippi Governor Bryant Signs Anti-LGBT HB1523 into Law, Ignoring Business Concerns

By Adam Polaski • April 5, 2016 • 12:58 pm

This morning, April 5, Governor Phil Bryant in Mississippi signed the anti-LGBT bill HB1523 into law. In his statement about the move, Gov. Bryant said, “This 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.” One thing is certain – HB1523 is targeted…targeted directly at the thousands of LGBT people who call Mississippi home.

MSpasses

The bill directly singles out LGBT people and allows businesses a broad license to discriminate. The three “sincerely held religious beliefs” that are included in the bill are that:

(a)  Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman;

(b)  Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage; and

(c)  Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.

HB1523 allows for a broad range of Mississippians – from individuals, to religiously affiliated organizations like hospitals, schools, and homeless shelters, to businesses – to legally cite their religious beliefs as an excuse to discriminate. Here are just some of the bill’s impacts. Under HB1523:

  • Government officials can refuse to do their job by not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
  • Transgender people can be legally denied medically necessary health care.
  • Homeless shelters, emergency service providers and foster care agencies can discriminate against LGBT people – including children and families.
  • Transgender children can be denied access to the restroom consistent with the gender they live as every day, in clear conflict with federal law.
  • Children could be forced into anti-LGBT “conversion therapy,” which has been condemned by every major child welfare organization in the nation.
  • Single mothers could be refused access to homeless shelters, day care providers, and more.

Freedom for All Americans Executive Director Matt McTighe said today:

“With his signature, Gov. Bryant announced to the world that if you or your loved ones are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, you are not welcome in Mississippi. Indiana and North Carolina’s anti-LGBT laws were horrendous, but Gov. Bryant’s bill goes even further in denying critical protections and enabling discrimination against LGBT individuals.”

Governor Bryant’s signature is shameful, and it flies in the face of the dozens of major businesses who urged him to reject this discrimination. Here’s a round-up of major businesses who have voiced concern, outrage, and opposition so far:

  • Mississippi Chamber of Commerce: The State Chamber of Commerce opposes the law, saying it conflicts with their own non-discrimination policy.
  • Mississippi Manufacturers Association: “It is clear that many of our members find that HB 1523 would violate their corporate policies expressly providing for an inclusive workplace environment that supports diversity. This is not a bill that the MMA supports and we hope that it will not find its way into law.” – Jay C Moon, spokesperson.
  • Levi Strauss & Co: The company called for repeal of HB1523 today, tweeting, “We believe & nondiscrimination fosters talent & innovation. We join with other businesses in calling for the repeal of .” See the tweet.
  • Nissan: “Nissan is committed to providing our employees with an inclusive workplace environment that supports diversity.  It is Nissan’s policy to prohibit discrimination of any type, and we oppose any legislation that would allow discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.” Source
  • MGM Resorts International: “MGM Resorts does not support the “Freedom of Conscience” bill.  We respect the diversity of our employees, guests and people in our communities.  Laws that permit businesses to decline to provide services to individuals because of this diversity result in decreased tourism and hurt the local economy.” Source
  • Tyson Foods International: “While we value religious freedom, we oppose legislation that allows discrimination. Our core values call on us to be respectful of each other and our policies prohibit unlawful harassment and discrimination in the workplace involving race, religion, color, age, national origin, veteran status, disability, genetics information, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other protected status under federal, state, or local law.” – Statement from Worth Sparkman, who indicated Tyson is reviewing the bill to determine further action.
  • Toyota: “Toyota does not condone discrimination in any form and believes that inclusive treatment of all people is good for the workplace, marketplace and society as a whole.  In our experience, the best ideas come when everyone is equally engaged and valued.” Source

Governor Bryant and the Mississippi Legislature must not be paying attention to the national outcry surrounding a similarly awful anti-LGBT bill in North Carolina, HB2. The latest fallout came just hours ago today, when Paypal withdrew plans to expand into Charlotte, NC.


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