Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant has signed into law HB 1523, the Religious Accommodations Act, after the measure passed with overwhelming support in both the state House and Senate.
While anti-LGBT measures have sprung up in several states, critics claim HB 1523 is the most sweeping— it allows individuals, businesses and religiously-affiliated organizations (including schools and hospitals) to deny service on the basis of religious beliefs or moral convictions.
Among its provisions:
Any organization can decline “to provide services, accommodations, facilities, goods or privileges for a purpose related to the solemnization, formation, celebration or recognition of any marriage.”
Employers can make a “decision whether or not to hire, terminate or discipline an individual whose conduct or religious beliefs are inconsistent with those of the religious organization.”
Mississippians can deny housing based on religious beliefs.
Foster care organizations and adoption agencies can “decline to provide any adoption or foster care service” without fear of retribution.
The state can’t prosecute any person who “declines to participate in the provision of treatments, counseling, or surgeries related to sex reassignment or gender identity transitioning or declines to participate in the provision of psychological, counseling or fertility services” or any wedding- or marriage-related services.
Schools and business owners can establish “sex-specific standards or policies concerning employee or student dress or grooming, or concerning access to restrooms, spas, baths, showers, dressing rooms, locker rooms, or other intimate facilities or settings.”
The ACLU states that the law will subject same-sex couples and families, trans people and single mothers, among other groups—and will lead to people being turned away from homeless shelters and denied medical care.
“If Gov. Bryant listened to the stories of Mississippians fired from jobs, refused service, and shunned from their families, then perhaps he might have a sense of why bills like HB 1523 devastate LGBT people and their families,” said GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis.
“But Gov. Bryant’s attack on fairness will not deter us—the LGBT community will not stop demanding equality and full acceptance until everyone in Mississippi can live the life they love.”
Just last week a Mississippi judge threw out the state’s ban on same-sex adoption. At the time former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove declared, “The more I read the Constitution, the clearer it became that you just can’t deny rights to a specific class of people just because some are uncomfortable with what they do not understand.”