>> Mississippi Gov Signs Religious Liberty Bill HB1523 Into Law
Si la Géorgie a finalement renoncé la semaine dernière à entériner un projet semblable, en dépit des protestations, le gouverneur de l'Etat du Mississippi, Phil Bryant, a au contraire signé ce mardi 5 avril une loi, votée par la Chambre des représentants, qui permet aux responsables locaux et aux entreprises d'invoquer leurs croyances religieuses pour refuser de livrer certains services aux couples gays souhaitant s'unir.
« Le loi HB 1523 ne limite aucun droit ou action protégé par la Constitution américaine », s'est défendu Phil Bryant. Selon lui, le texte a été conçu « de la manière la plus ciblée pour prévenir toute ingérence du gouvernement dans la vie des gens ».
Mais pour l'Union américaine des libertés civiles et plusieurs autres associations, cette décision « défie les principes américains d'équité, de justice et d'égalité et ne protègera en rien la liberté religieuse de personne ».
Le groupe automobile Nissan, qui emploie des milliers de personnes dans une usine d'assemblage de l'Etat, s'est également élevé contre ce texte, ainsi que Toyota, qui rappelle « qu'un environnement inclusif pour tous est favorable à l'économie et à la société dans son ensemble. »
Message semblable pour le groupe de loisirs américain MGM Resorts, qui exploite deux complexes dans l'état et réaffirme ses positions pour le respect de la diversité : « Les lois qui permettent aux entreprises de refuser de fournir des services aux particuliers en raison de leurs différences sont nuisibles au tourisme et à l'économie de l'état. »
>> Despite threats of economic devastation Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed HB1523 into law this morning codifying discrimination against the LGBT community into state law.
HB1523 uses the concept of religious liberty to legalize discrimination against the LGBT community. It also has the potential to affect other populations outside that as well thanks to a line in Section 2 that reads, “Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a [opposite-sex] marriage.”
In addition to codifying public accommodation discrimination based on sexual orientation, the bill specifically targets the transgender community requiring all transgender men, women and children to use the bathroom of their birth gender as defined by the bill. It goes on to inaccurately define gender as “immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.”
More dangerously, the legislation allows discrimination in taxpayer-funded institutions like medical services and adoption.
Claiming he signed HB1523 into law to protect the rights of people with “deeply held religious beliefs,” Gov. Bryant said HB1523 prevents “government from interfering with people of faith who are exercising their religious beliefs … in matters of marriage.” He added, “This bill does not create one action against any class or group of people. It doesn’t create a new action or a new defense of an action against those people.”
Many of those opponents fund the state’s economy through tourism and private industry business. Of those several large companies have already announced they’re sticking by former statements made when the bill sped through the state legislature.
A spokeswoman for Nissan said the company’s statement from last week in opposition to HB1523 “still stands.”
“It is Nissan’s policy to prohibit discrimination of any type, and we oppose any legislation that would allow discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals,” the statement read.
Toyota, which employs roughly 2,000 at a manufacturing plant in Blue Springs, Mississippi, also voiced its displeasure, saying in a statement: "Toyota does not condone discrimination in any form and believes that inclusive treatment of all people is good for the workplace, marketplace and society as a whole."
The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi additionally released a statement following Gov. Bryant’s actions:
“This is a sad day for the state of Mississippi and for the thousands of Mississippians who can now be turned away from businesses, refused marriage licenses, or denied housing, essential services and needed care based on who they are. This bill flies in the face of the basic American principles of fairness, justice and equality and will not protect anyone’s religious liberty,” said Jennifer Riley-Collins, Executive Director of the ACLU of Mississippi. “Far from protecting anyone from ‘government discrimination’ as the bill claims, it is an attack on the citizens of our state, and it will serve as the Magnolia State’s badge of shame.”
GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis additionally released a statement saying:
“Governor Bryant has put the people and the economy of Mississippi at risk and damaged his state’s reputation by signing this regressive anti-LGBT bill into law. If Gov. Bryant listened to the stories of Mississippians fired from jobs, refused service, and shunned from their families, then perhaps he might have a sense of why bills like HB 1523 devastate LGBT people and their families. But Gov. Bryant’s attack on fairness will not deter us; the LGBT community will not stop demanding equality and full acceptance until everyone in Mississippi can live the life they love.”
MGM Resorts (MGM), which employs about 4,400 people at two resorts in the state -- Beau Rivage in Biloxi and Gold Strike Casino Resort in Tunica -- said it was disappointed that the legislation had become law and warned that it would hurt tourism and the state's economy.
"We respect the diversity of our employees, our guests and the people in our communities," an MGM Resorts spokeswoman said in an email. "Laws that permit businesses to decline to provide services to individuals because of this diversity will result in discrimination, decreased tourism and harm to the state's economy."
Despite Bryant’s statements to the contrary, HB1523 does indeed target the LGBT community for explicit discrimination rationalized by sincerely held religious belief. It will allow any private industry business to deny service or accommodation to LGBT individuals and couples so long as they refer to the appropriate section of the law that allows them to deny acknowledgement or “celebration” of LGBT unions. Also:
- It will allow employers and landlords to fire and evict same-sex couples based solely on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
- It will allow adoption agencies (including those that accept state and federal tax dollars) to turn away same-sex couples.
- It will allow government officials – including county clerks – to refuse to perform their duties if serving a LGBT constituent would violate their religious beliefs.
- It will allow schools to discriminate against transgender students by forcing them to use a bathroom that does not align with their gender identity (which is a blatant violation of Title IX).
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
With the stroke of a pen Gov. Bryant just made Mississippi one of most (if not the most) anti-LGBT states in the union.
Just as North Carolina is experiencing massive backlash (both social and economic) in the wake of their religious liberty law, Mississippi now faces an onslaught of litigation and economic upheaval.