This Week in LGBT Non-Discrimination: Anti-LGBT Legislation Prompts Historic Pushback

By Adam Polaski • April 8, 2016 • 5:04 pm

This week Mississippi joined North Carolina as one of the few states to actually pass egregious anti-LGBT legislation this year – but the bill quickly pushed through by the Mississippi Legislature and signed into law by Governor Phil Bryant is one of the worst we’ve seen in the country.

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When these bills are passed, however, it has been heartening to see the rest of the country take notice – and take action. Businesses across the country have condemned the terrible laws in Mississippi and North Carolina, and this month more than ever before there is clear, nearly unanimous understanding among American businesses that anti-LGBT legislation simply will not stand.

Check out our roundup of legislative momentum – and setbacks – here:

Mississippi

On April 5, Governor Phil Bryant in Mississippi signed the anti-LGBT bill HB1523 into law, which allows any business or individual to legally cite their religious beliefs as an excuse to discriminate against same-sex couples who marry, transgender people, and anyone who has sex outside of marriage.

“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,” Freedom for All Americans Executive Director Matt McTighe said. “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.”

Many businesses have expressed their disapproval and called for repeal of the clearly discriminatory bill – including Levis Strauss & Co, IBM, Apple, and the largest newspaper in Mississippi. Just hours after it was signed into law, seven legal experts from Mississippi and beyond assessed that it is clearly unconstitutional, violating the First Amendment. Governors from five states and many cities have issued orders prohibiting non-essential travel to Mississippi. And on the local level, City Council members in Jackson and Biloxi immediately condemned the passage of HB1523, issuing strong resolutions against the legislation.

Tennessee

Two weeks ago we celebrated the Tennessee House Education Administration & Planning Committee’s decision to send HB 2414 – an invasive bill that restricts transgender children and students from using the restroom of the gender they live as each day – to “summer study,” meaning it would not become law during the current legislative session. Unfortunately, on Wednesday the committee reversed its decision and advanced the bill, bringing it one step closer to becoming law.

Our Executive Director Matt McTighe expressed his disappointment that legislators have reversed course and decided to advance this divisive legislation: “It’s disappointing that legislators have decided to ignore what educators, law enforcement officers and legal experts have said: gender inspection bills are unnecessary, costly and dangerous. More importantly, gender inspection legislation further isolates transgender students and can open these students up to health problems and bullying.”

Freedom for All Americans has been proud to work with the Tennessee Equality Project on fighting back against this shameful anti-transgender bill that would do nothing but hurt Tennessee.

North Carolina

The fallout continues from North Carolina’s General Assembly shamefully pushing through the blatantly anti-LGBT HB2, with Paypal announcing on Tuesday that they was withdrawing plans to build a multi-million dollar investment – which included 400 jobs – in Charlotte.

Just three weeks before, Paypal announced the massive expansion in Charlotte alongside Governor McCrory, who said in a press conference, “North Carolina is on fire in creating jobs, and Charlotte is leading the way.” Just days later, Governor McCrory signed into law a bill that actually unambiguously and forcefully jeopardized jobs.

Freedom for All Americans Executive Director Matt McTighe said on Tuesday, “PayPal’s withdrawal from North Carolina is indisputable evidence that discriminatory laws like HB 2 have significant and immediate consequences on a state’s economy and brand. Governor Pat McCrory and other legislative leaders in the state have implied that, despite the immense backlash that began immediately after they rushed this discriminatory bill through the legislature, there would be no economic fallout. That claim is clearly false, and now we know that North Carolina will lose at least $4 million in economic investment and miss out on more than 400 new jobs because of this law.”

Massachusetts

This weekend is the Faith Weekend of Action for Freedom Massachusetts, the campaign to secure full non-discrimination protections for transgender Bay Staters. Momentum is building across the state for the passage of this bill – and this weekend, 50 congregations are taking action in support of the legislation.

Pennsylvania

In a big step forward for Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf announced on Wednesday that he would sign an executive order that will prohibit all state contractors from discriminating against employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Governor Wolf’s decision marks a significant step forward – and signals growing momentum in Pennsylvania for comprehensive federal non-discrimination. But despite the step forward, in Pennsylvania (and in nearly 30 other states), LGBT people have no state-wide non-discrimination protections.

That’s why more than 1,000 businesses in Pennsylvania and thousands of advocates across the state have come together to push for full statewide LGBT protections withPennsylvania Competes. Pennsylvania Competes is working to advance the Pennsylvania Fairness Act, which would ensure that no one in the Keystone State is denied employment, housing, or service in public spaces simply because of who they are or who they love.

Louisiana

In Louisiana, advocates are readying themselves for Tuesday, when an anti-LGBT bill – HB597, a so-called “Pastor Protection Act,” will be heard by the House Civil Law & Procedure Committee. On Tuesday, a separate bill, SB288 – which would preempt local governments from extending non-discrimination protections to LGBT people – was heard by the Senate Transportation, Highways & Public Works Committee.

South Carolina

On Thursday South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, a Republican, responded to questions about a shameful bill filed on Wednesday in the South Carolina Legislature. The bill, S. 1203, is another attempt to criminalize transgender people for being who they are by restricting their access to restrooms. It would require all people in South Carolina to use the restroom that aligns with the gender on their birth certificate, ignoring their gender identity.

“While other states are having this battle, this is not a battle that we’ve seen is needed in South Carolina,” Haley said. “And it’s not something that we see that citizens are asking for in South Carolina.”

Missouri

Businesses across Missouri and throughout the country continued to express strong opposition to SJR-39, with IBM voicing disapproval this week. The discriminatory bill passed the Senate last month after a historic filibuster, and would send to the ballot a proposed constitutional amendment allowing individuals and small business owners to refuse services to LGBT people.

The Kansas City Sports Commission released a letter this week warning that the legislation could cause the city to lose out in at least $50 million in revenue from sporting events. The St. Louis Regional Chamber, Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Dow Chemical, Monsanto and MasterCard are among the organizations voicing opposition to the legislation. Governor Jay Nixon also is opposed to the bill – though he cannot issue a veto since the legislation involves a proposed constitutional amendment.


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