HB 1523, is the Protecting Freedom of Conscience From Government Discrimination Act. This new law could potentially allow anyone to discriminate against anyone citing religious convictions.
HB 1523 allows widespread discrimination by individuals, businesses, and even government employees if the discrimination is based on religious beliefs about marriage, sexuality, and gender. It states that the government cannot penalize an individual, organization, or business for acting according to the following “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions”, that “marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman”, that “sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage” and that “male or female refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.”
These acts could take many forms, opponents have warned — denial of wedding related goods and services, marriage licenses, denial of housing or employment and denial of adoption services or space in homeless shelters. In addition to sanctioning biased treatment of LGBT people, the bill will put other groups at risk of discrimination, they note, including single parents and unwed opposite sex couples.
While the above affects the entirety of the LGBT community, the impact to for the Transgender community is far worse. Those that would deny treatments, counseling, or surgeries related to sex reassignment or gender identity transitioning would be protected in this bill. In addition, those with religious convictions can set sex specific standards or policies concerning employee or student dress and grooming. It also allows them manage the access of restrooms and other sex segregated facilities.
“THIS ISN’T ABOUT PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF THOSE WHO HOLD HIGH RELIGIOUS CONVICTIONS. THIS IS A SLAP IN THE FACE TO THE SUPREME COURT.”
As with other states facing such legislation this year, advocates against this legislation have spoken up, the Human Rights Campaign, the ACLU of Mississippi, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Planned Parenthood Southeast. Officials with businesses including Nissan Group of North America, Tyson Foods, MGM Resorts International, and Toyota have spoken out against it as well.
This isn’t about protecting the rights of those who hold high religious convictions. This is a slap in the face to the Supreme Court. Mississippi’s Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves said it was needed after the Supreme Court ruled last year that gay couples have a right to marriage.
The right for religion to triumph over equality starts in July in Mississippi.