Mississippi Legislators Just Passed the “Most Sweeping Anti-LGBT Legislation” in the U.S.
Following several controversial LGBT laws in the Southern states, the Mississippi state Senate joined the club, and passed “the most sweeping anti-LGBT legislation” in the U.S., according to critics, on Wednesday.
The Republican-led Mississippi Senate voted 31-17 to pass House Bill 1523, otherwise known as the “religious liberty” bill, states that public employees, businesses, religious organizations and social workers will not face repercussions for denying services to people based on “sincerely held” religious beliefs.
The protections are expansive and would, for example, allow a religious organization to fire or discipline individuals based on religious belief, a landlord to refuse to rent to LGBT individuals, and a business to refuse to sell wedding goods to a same sex couple. It would also allow doctors, dressing rooms, photographers, fertility clinics and more to refuse service based on their religious beliefs.
Critics of the Mississippi bill, including the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, have spoken out against it.
“NGLCC is appalled by the sinister law in Mississippi— the most discriminatory yet introduced in America,” they said.
Organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign are now hoping for a repeat of what happened in Georgia. They’ve called on Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant to veto the bill.
Bryant, who has previously expressed support for the bill, will have five working days to sign or veto the bill before it passes into law without his signature.
The news comes just weeks after the Republican-dominated North Carolina state Legislature passed a bill that blocked local governments from creating anti-discrimination rules for LGBT people. That bill is now facing pressure from the Human Rights Campaign with backing from companies including IBM and Bank of America. Just a few days earlier, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal decided to veto a high-profile bill similar to Mississippi’s after Disney announced plans to boycott filming if the bill were passed—threatening the state’s economy.