Mississippi now boasts the nation’s most aggressive anti-LGBT law, after Gov. Phil Bryant signed House Bill 1523 into law this morning.
The first-of-its-kind law will take effect in July, and allow businesses, individuals, and religiously affiliated organizations to deny service to LGBT people, single mothers, and others who somehow offend an individual’s “sincerely held religious belief.” It also directly targets transgender residents, effectively claiming that one’s sex assigned at birth is immutable, and will be the only gender recognized by the state.
The Republican governor announced that he had signed the bill in a tweet on Tuesday morning. It was accompanied by a statement contending that he signed HB 1523 “into law to protect sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions.”
“This bill merely reinforces the rights which currently exist to the exercise of religious freedom,” the governor’s statement continued. “This bill does not limit any constitutionally protected rights or actions of any citizen of this state under federal or state laws.”
“Gov. Phil Bryant’s decision to sign HB 1523 into law is unconscionable,” said Jody E. Owens, managing attorney in Mississippi at the progressive Southern Poverty Law Center in a statement. “This newly enacted law — like the draconian anti-LGBT laws in other states — uses the guise of ‘religious freedom’ to justify discrimination, mistreatment and bigotry. It’s the same sort of rationale used by white supremacists in earlier eras to justify slavery and Jim Crow. The estimated 60,000 LGBT people in Mississippi deserve better. We need to stand up for the rights of all people.”
I don’t know what can be said here. I don’t know how to express the grief I feel. I don’t understand how people can be so filled with hatred and fear, yet think they are good people.