Mississippi's "Religious Freedom" Bill Under Federal Review

According to the Washington Blade, three federal agencies are reviewing HB 1523, Mississippi's overly broad so-called religious freedom bill signed into law by Governor Phil Bryant this week. Spokespersons for Departments of Housing & Urban Development, Health & Human Services, and Transportation have all confirmed that their agencies are now taking a look at the law.

Federal review may not end there. On Wednesday, US Congressman Bennie G. Thompson of Mississippi wrote a letter to US Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking her to study the law and declare it unconstitutional under Titles VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

"This law purports to protect Mississippians from discrimination by government officials for practicing/observing their religious beliefs," Rep. Thompson wrote in the letter. "A cursory review of MS House Bill No. 1523, reveals that this bill does no such thing: instead, it gives employers, business owners, and any other person or entity in Mississippi the explicit right to discriminate against anyone with a lifestyle they disagree with in the name of religion. Simply put, this is government-sanctioned discrimination."

Rep. Thompson joins the voices of hundreds of local governments, businesses, and ordinary citizens opposing the bill. Hopefully, the chorus will convince Mississippi to–as Thompson puts it– "make sure justice and equality prevail."