One of the most extreme, sweeping anti-LGBT bills in the country, HB 1523, is making its way through the Mississippi legislature and will reach Governor Phil Bryant’s desk within days. It would allow discrimination by individuals, religiously-affiliated organizations (including hospitals, schools, homeless shelters, and more), and businesses based on religious beliefs or moral convictions regarding marriage for same-sex couples; sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage; and transgender people. This means that under state law single moms, gay and lesbian couples and their families, transgender people, and vulnerable kids can face discrimination including being turned away from a homeless shelter, businesses, denied important medical care, or lose their jobs.
Rebecca Isaacs, Executive Director of Equality Federation, said “This outrageous bill could result in serious, unintended consequences. Discriminatory bills like this one are facing strong opposition by diverse coalitions of small businesses, corporations – from Disney to Nisson to the NFL – and faith leaders from throughout the country because they understand that discrimination is harmful and not a value Americans hold dear. We stand with the 60,000 LGBT Mississippians, their friends and families in calling on Governor Bryant to stand for fairness and freedom by vetoing this dangerous bill.”
The extraordinarily sweeping potential consequences of this poorly written bill cannot be overstated. These are just some of them:
- Transgender people can be denied necessary medical care, and LGBT people or single women can be refused counseling or fertility services.
- Businesses offering goods and services relating to weddings, baby showers, or anniversaries would be authorized to discriminate against customers.
- Social service agencies like homeless shelters, emergency services, foster care agencies and more could discriminate against LGBT people, including kids and families, even when they receive government grants or contracts to provide care to everyone.
- It lets schools refuse to allow transgender students to dress consistent with the gender they identify and live every day, or to use the appropriate restroom or other facilities, in conflict with federal law.
- And it empowers any person to challenge someone else’s use of restrooms and demand proof of others’ “anatomy and genetics at time of birth.”
HB 1523 will be costly and jeopardizes all kinds of federal funding, including:
- Educational funding for all types of schools, whether it is elementary, secondary, or a college or university.
Federal funding for adoption and foster care services.
- LGBT people, children, single mothers and fathers who suffer harm because they were denied necessary health care, fired from their jobs or otherwise treated unfairly would be stripped of any redress – this bill would give a defense in any kind of lawsuit, regardless of whether the government is involved.
With the details of this bill now clear, it is obvious that this is not about protecting anyone from “government discrimination,” it’s about sanctioning discrimination against the most vulnerable in our society. Equality Federation will continue working with our partners to defend against these attacks on LGBT people and our families, and build broad coalitions of fair-minded Americans to stand up against discrimination.
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