Mississippi just signed into law one of the most sweeping anti-LGBT measures in the United States, allowing businesses, religious organizations, and private individuals (including government workers) to deny some services to gay and transgender people based on their “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.”
Mississippi governor Phil Bryant signed the “religious liberty” bill — interestingly named the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience From Government Discrimination Act” — on Tuesday, saying in a statement, “The legislation is designed in the most targeted manner possible to prevent government interference in the lives of the people from which all power to the state is derived.”
Those “sincerely held” beliefs include opposition to same-sex marriage and the idea that a person’s gender refers to his or her anatomy and genetics at the time of birth. Here’s just a sampling of some of the provisions in the law. (You can read the full legislation here.) Private individuals, businesses, and religious organizations won’t be punished if they refuse services, accommodations, or anything relating to the “celebration or recognition of any [same-sex] marriage.” (For individuals, the law lists out everything from photographers to DJs.) The law also protects religious entities when refusing housing or adoption services. It says businesses can determine who can use its restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities. It grants government workers the right to recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses. Businesses can decide whether to hire, fire, or discipline employees based on those “moral convictions.”
The law is set to take effect July 1, though a legal challenge is certainly possible. Mississippi businesses — including the Chamber of Commerce — and civil-rights groups have come out against the law.
Georgia’s governor vetoed a similar, but not as far-reaching, bill last month, after pressure to ditch the legislation from major players in the state economy, including Disney and the NFL. But as Daily Intelligencer’s Ed Kilgore pointed out last week, unlike Georgia, Mississippi doesn’t rely on Hollywood’s dollars, and unlike the rest of the “sports mad” Deep South, college and professional teams don’t have the same presence — or leverage. “So its desire to make itself a safe haven for anti-LGBT discriminators,” Kilgore wrote, “is allowed to burn more brightly than is the case with its more outgoing neighbors.”
North Carolina, which passed a bill to override local anti-discrimination LGBT protections, just got slammed by PayPal today. The company said they’re nixing plans to build a global-operations center in Charlotte because of the new law, which was signed in response to a city of Charlotte measure that would have let people use the public restroom that matched his or her gender identity.