Don’t ya hate when Bible Belt conservative Christians take a civil rights issue and turn it on its head?
In 2016, Mississippi passed HB 1523, a law providing protection to folks with three certain beliefs, the crucial excerpt outlined below:
The sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions protected by this act are the belief or conviction that:
(a) Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman;
(b) Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage; and
(c) Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.
Naturally HB 1523 was challenged by the LGBT advocacy group Lambda Legal.
“We had challenged it before it went into effect…before people were hurt and turned away and left without all the access to health care and government services that everyone else has,” says Lambda lawyer Beth Littrell.
Lambda filed lawsuits Barber v. Bryant and Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant against the HB 1523. Bryant is Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant. Last year the federal Fifth Circuit appeals court ruled the plaintiffs did not have legal standing to challenge HB 1523—in that the law did not harm them enough—however that court did not rule on the law’s constitutionality.
“This law that targeted LGBT people [and] privileged specific religious beliefs over others—that was a harm in and of itself,” said Littrell. “The stigma itself of targeting LGBT people and saying that if you don’t like them, you don’t have to deal with them, is dangerous and harmful.”
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court decided Monday to not hear arguments in the cases for reasons unstated.
This foreboding decision gave wacko churchies, including Governor Bryant who backed the law with all his Christian might, cause for celebration. Bryant gave Mississippi Today a coded statement of malarkey, basically saying that Christians come first in The Hospitality State.
“As I have said from the beginning, this law was democratically enacted and is perfectly constitutional. The people of Mississippi have the right to ensure that all of our citizens are free to peacefully live and work without fear of being punished for their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
To that, Lambda lawyers are committed to continue filing new lawsuits as the negative impact of the law inevitably grows more obvious. This law allows: state employees the option to refuse to officiate same-sex marriages, foster parents to force the “religious beliefs or moral convictions” down the throats of foster children, medical workers to turn away individuals seeking sex reassignment surgery, wedding planners to refuse services to same-sex couples, pharmacies to decline filling birth control prescriptions to unmarried women. Transgender bathroom policies are also affected by HB 1523.
Some of this discrimination, of course, is already legal in Mississippi, a state that includes a symbol of the Confederacy on its flag. Bakers can legally deny a cake for same-sex weddings, which echoes The Masterpiece Cakeshop case the High Court will be deciding in June.
Reportedly a lot of business owners do not support the HB 1523 because of its negative consequences on the state’s economy, such as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo banning all non-essential state travel to Mississippi because of the discriminatory legislation. HB 1523, according to South Mississippi’s Sun Herald, “…was responsible for recent bad news for the Southern Miss baseball team. The Golden Eagles were set to play three home games in February against Stony Brook University [of] Long Island, New York.”
When college baseball fans lament a law like HB 1523, something’s afoot.