The Mississippi Senate is scheduled to vote on HB 1523 by the end of the day. HB 1523 would allow for widespread discrimination against LGBT couples as well as many others Mississippians. As we have previously detailed, this bill would allow state employees, corporations, individuals, healthcare providers, and nonprofit organizations to use religion as a justification to discriminate against nearly everyone—same sex couples, single mothers, divorcees, and anyone who has had sex outside of marriage. This is the broadest bill of its kind that we have seen this legislative session.
Just this week, the Governors of Georgia and Virginia vetoed legislation that similarly attempted to sanction discrimination under the guise of religious liberty. In his veto statement, Virginia Governor McAuliffe explained, “Although couched as a ‘religious freedom’ bill, this legislation is nothing more than an attempt to stigmatize.” He continued, “We should be pursuing policies to make Virginia a more vibrant and welcoming place to live, work, and raise a family. [This bill] would accomplish the opposite by making Virginia unwelcome to same-sex couples, while artificially engendering a sense of fear and persecution among our religious communities.”
The Mississippi Senate should heed these words. Mississippi HB 1523 is also nothing more than an attempt to stigmatize and create opportunities to harm others couched as religious freedom. The bill belies Mississippi’s motto of providing the South’s Warmest Welcome. You can follow along with the Mississippi Senate here.