Mississippi’s HB 1523 prevent lawsuits against anyone who discriminates on “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions” opposing same-sex marriage, transgender identity or premarital sex. This means that any government clerk (a la Kim Davis and her friends), taxpayer-funded organization (like a Catholic adoption clinic or church-run homeless shelter) or employee of any sort can legally refuse services to a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person, an unmarried parent or unmarried partner just because they’re against it.
Here’s the governor’s tweet about his sighing of the bill:
I have signed House Bill 1523. Full statement: pic.twitter.com/00DbgQADFt
— Phil Bryant (@PhilBryantMS) April 5, 2016
Governor Bryant is lying by the way. The bill does not “merely enforce… rights that currently exist” — it takes away the right for people to sue over blatant discrimination.
Protect Thy Neighbor, a project of Americans United for a Separation of Church and State, laid out the many scenarios where HB1523 could affect LGBT and straight people. Here’s just a few:
- a government clerk could refuse to issue a marriage license to a couple because one person had been previously divorced;
- a taxpayer-funded adoption agency could refuse to place a child with a happy and loving family because the parents lived together before they were married;
- a taxpayer-funded organization that provides shelter to kids who have suffered child abuse could turn away a pregnant teenager;
- a counseling group practice could refuse to see a mother and her teen who is experiencing severe depression because the woman is unmarried;
- a counselor could refuse to help an LGBT person who called a suicide hotline;
- a fertility clinic could refuse to treat a veteran and his partner because they are not married;
- a car rental agency could refuse to rent a car to a same-sex couple on their honeymoon…
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Provisions include protections for people who refuse medical or psychological treatment to LGBT people (have fun dying in the streets, queers!) as well as for employers who want to establish “sex-specific standards or policies concerning employee or student dress or grooming.”
That means that pharmacists could refuse to provide anti-depressants, life-saving medications, birth control or HIV medication to whoever they want because hey, God hate sinners; any employee anywhere can refuse to serve Black people, Jews, Muslims, Christians, women, whoever because God hates anyone they hate. And when you consider the numerous bat-shit insane old-timey religious laws forbidding make-up, fatness, shaving, tattooing and dog-breeding, Mississippi has just become a hypocenter for discrimination and lawsuits, and taxpayers will float the bill.
The one upside of these horrible laws: it might force the Supreme Court to finally rule against so-called Religious Freedom Rights Amendments and Free-speech Protection Acts once and for all.
Story originally published on March 31, 2016. Updated to reflect most recent developments.