What’s at Stake in Mississippi This Legislative Session

There is much at stake for the LGBT community in the Magnolia State. Sadly, some of the people whom we elect to protect the citizens of this state are the very ones seeking to further disenfranchise and harm LGBT Mississippians. Currently, a number of harmful bills are making their way through the state legislature in an attempt to enshrine discrimination in state law.

HRC Mississippi and our partners are watching all of these bills closely.  We’re working each day with our friends and allies in the Mississippi legislature in an effort to make sure these anti-LGBT bills die in committee and never see the light of day.

Currently, the House is debating passing H.B. 1523 which would allow religion to be used by most any individual or organization to justify discrimination against LGBT people, unwed mothers, veterans and others. Faith-based organizations could refuse to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples; deny children in need of loving homes with LGBT families; and refuse to sell or rent a for-profit home to an LGBT person -- even if the organization receives government funding. As introduced, H.B. 1523 would also give foster families the freedom to submit an LGBTQ child to the dangerous practice of “conversion therapy,” and shame a pregnant unwed girl, without fear of government intervention or license suspension. It would even allow individuals to refuse to carry out the terms of a state contract for the provision of counseling services to all eligible individuals, including veterans, based on the counselor's beliefs about LGBT people or single mothers.

Furthermore, schools, employers and service providers could implement sex-specific dress and grooming standards, as well as refuse transgender people access to the appropriate sex-segregated facilities,consistent with their gender identity. H.B. 1523 even legalizes Kim Davis-style discrimination by allowing government employees to abdicate their duties and refuse to license or solemnize marriages for LGBT people.

Here is a list of the other bills also threatening our community:

House Bill 1523: Religious Refusal Bill

Under H.B. 1523, religion could be used by most any person or organization to justify discrimination against LGBT people, unwed mothers, veterans and others.                   

Author: House Speaker Gunn

Status: On February 18, SB 1523 passed the House Judiciary B committee with a 13-4 vote in favor.  It now moves to the floor of the full House of Representatives for a vote.

House Bill 586: Judges are not required to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies

Author: Rep. Arnold

Status: Active and currently in the House Judiciary A committee

Senate Bill 2093: Anti-Marriage Equality Bill

Author: Sen. Younger

Status: Active and currently in Senate Judiciary A committee

House Bill 1258: Transgender Criminalization Bill               

Author: Rep. Eubanks

Status: Active and currently in House Judiciary A committee          

Senate Bill 2822: Religious Freedom Bill  

Author: Sen. Branning

Status:  Active and currently in Senate Judiciary A committee

House Bills 494, 954, 1232, 1233, 1243, and Senate Bills 2818, 2434: Sex Education Bills with Anti-LGBT Language

Authors: Reps. White, Currie, Henley, Bain and Sens. Parker, Hill, Watson

Status: Active and in House and Senate Education Committees                                                                            

The deadline for bills to make it out of committees is Tuesday, February 23, at 8 p.m.

Our members and supporters can make a difference by standing up to those seek to harm our community and fight against anything that preserves and promotes discrimination in our state.

Contact harry.hawkins@hrc.org in order to join our efforts to protect LGBT Mississippians and work to make our state one where all are welcome.

Rob Hill

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