Under the guise of "religious freedom," the Mississippi state Senate passed last night what is being called the most extreme anti-LGBT legislation in the nation. The legislation, which is straight-up Christian Supremacist trash, details myriad ways in which people are allowed to discriminate against LGBT people, framing it using an explicitly anti-LGBT morality:
The sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions protected by this act are the belief or conviction that:Further:
(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.
Assessing what kind of discriminatory situations this would enable is easy, because the bill spells those out as well. So long as individuals are motivated by "a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction," any of the following behaviors would have the endorsement of the government:The definitions are so broad that a woman could be fired for wearing pants or cutting her hair, if her employer's "sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction" includes that women must wear skirts and/or must not cut their hair, which are beliefs existent in several Christian denominations.
Religious organizations can decline to solemnize any marriage or provide any services related to recognizing that marriage.
Religious organizations can refuse to hire, fire, and discipline employees for violating the organization's religious beliefs.
Religious organizations can choose not to sell, rent, or otherwise provide shelter.
Religious organizations that provide foster or adoptive services can decline service without risking their state subsidies.
Any foster or adoptive parent can impose their religious beliefs on their children.
Any person can choose not to provide treatment, counseling, or surgery related to gender transition or same-sex parenting.
Any person (including any business) can choose not to provide services for any marriage ceremony or occasion that involves recognizing a marriage, including: Photography, Poetry, Videography, Disc-Jockey Services, Wedding Planning, Printing, Publishing, Floral Arrangements, Dress Making, Cake or Pastry Artistry, Assembly-Hall or Other Wedding-Venue Rentals, Limousine or Other Car-Service Rentals, Jewelry Sales And Services.
Any person can establish "sex-specific standards or policies concerning employee or student dress or grooming," and can manage the access of restrooms and other sex-segregated facilities.
Any state employee can openly express their beliefs without consequence.
Any state employee can choose not to authorize or license legal marriages by recusing themselves from those duties.
The Mississippi House passed the legislation and sent it to the Senate, where it was also passed. It now goes back to the House so they can reconcile an amendment. Once the House sorts that out, it then goes to Republican Governor Phil Bryant, who "hasn't said whether he'll veto the bill or not, but last week he told WLOX he didn't think the bill was discriminatory."
I am beyond angry about this legislation. This is utterly hostile to the idea of the separation of church and state, and its entire purpose is the legalize discrimination and harm, under the auspices of protecting religious freedom, even as it severely limits the definition of what constitutes "religious belief."
Again, the people of Mississippi who are targeted by this legislation will, if Bryant signs it, be left with no recourse but the courts. I'm sure the ACLU stands at the ready. If you're looking for ways to help, and can afford it, you can donate to the ACLU of Mississippi here. Please feel welcome and encouraged to leave suggestions for other places to direct donations and/or other ways to help in comments.
I take up space in solidarity with the LGBT people of Mississippi. You have my support and my incandescent anger.