An anti-LGBTQ law that the Human Rights Campaign described as the “nation’s worst” will go into effect on Friday in Mississippi.
Peddled as yet another pervasive “religious freedom law,” House Bill 1523 was signed by Gov. Phil Bryant last year. A series of legal battles concluded over the weekend when the Fifth Circuit of Appeals rejected a petition to rehear a lawsuit attempting to block HB 1523 from going into effect. Plaintiffs in that case, the Fifth Circuit of Appeals found, were not directly harmed by HB 1523, therefore it could go into effect.
While LGBTQ rights groups vowed to take take the case to the Supreme Court, no such case been filed. Unless another injunction is issued between now and when it’s scheduled to go into effect, HB 1523 will become law.
HB 1523’s broad stipulations are, in a word, inhumane. Here’s a brief rundown as summarized by local newspaper the Sun Herald:
An Arizona-based Christian group, Alliance Defending Freedom, helped write the Mississippi law that Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed in 2016. The law protects three beliefs: that marriage is only between a man and a woman, sex should only take place in such a marriage, and a person’s gender is determined at birth and cannot be altered.
Based on these protected beliefs, Mississippi businesses and citizens can now refuse to serve anyone they believe threatens their religious ideology.
HB 1523 quite literally specifies what forms of discrimination are legal: religious organizations have the right to fire employees based on their sexual orientation; landlords have the right to evict tenants who are LGBTQ; landlords can reject LGBTQ rental applicants; hospitals can refuse to operate on individuals seeking gender reassignment surgery; basically anything related to marriages are fair game for discrimination; state government employees are free to spew whatever type of anti-LGTBQ sentiments they may have; and adoption agencies can refuse to help LGBTQ people become parents. The list goes on.
Perhaps one of HB 1523's most cruel provisions pertains to trans people. When the law goes into effect on Friday, it establishes “sex-specific standards or policies concerning employee or student dress or grooming” — meaning schools, businesses, and other organizations can force trans people to wear clothes that correspond to their biological sex at birth.
Roberta Kaplan, who presented a case against the Defense of Marriage Act to the Supreme Court and won, has lead the legal fight against HB 1523. Speaking to Mississippi Today on Sunday, she said, “Rest assured that we will do everything humanly possible to continue to fight this harmful law on the merits in order to protect our nation’s constitutional values and the LGBT citizens of Mississippi.”