Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant has signed into law one of the most extreme, sweeping anti-LGBT bills in the country, HB 1523. The law allows 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 denied medical care, fired from their jobs, and turned away from homeless shelters and businesses.
Rebecca Isaacs, Executive Director of Equality Federation, said “It is a shame Governor Bryant didn’t stand on the side of fairness and instead chose the wrong side of history. This outrageous law could result in serious, unintended consequences. Discriminatory laws like this one are facing strong opposition by diverse coalitions of small businesses, corporations – from Disney to Toyota 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 condemning this dangerous legislation.”
The extraordinarily sweeping potential consequences of this poorly written law 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.
- Schools could 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.
- Any person could 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.
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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