Mississippi Just Proved It's America's Most Homophobic State
Damn, bigots. Back at it again with the anti-LGBT legislation. If that reference felt dated and awkward, imagine how people must feel about traveling back in time to an era where discrimination and shame for being LGBT is the norm. After Georgia and North Carolina showed us how not to be decent human beings with their anti-LGBT legislation, Mississippi kept the trend of being on the wrong side of history alive with a “religious liberty” bill that’s being called “the most sweeping anti-LGBT legislation” in America by critics.
House Bill 1523 passed through the Republican-led Mississippi Senate with a majority vote on Wednesday, and was swiftly signed into law by Governor Phil Bryant. Like the governors of Georgia and North Carolina, he is also heterosexual and cisgender, which means the discrimination he just unleashed on his state won’t have any impact on him. What a joy!
I have signed House Bill 1523. Full statement: pic.twitter.com/00DbgQADFt
— Phil Bryant (@PhilBryantMS) April 5, 2016
HB 1523 states that all public employees, businesses, religious organizations and social workers will not face repercussions for denying services to people based on “sincerely held” religious beliefs. That also means they have a free pass to discriminate against LGBT people whenever they want with no fear of legal repercussions. Sure, other states and cities are putting travel restrictions in place to boycott the bill, but that isn’t enough. What matters is how the new law affects everyone who isn’t straight and cis in Mississippi.
If you identify as LGBT, your life under the law is about to turn into a living hell. Landlords can refuse to rent to you and business can refuse to sell their products to you if you’re LGBT. Doctors, dressing rooms, photographers, fertility clinics and even more places can refuse to serve you based on their religious beliefs. In Mississippi, people are partying like it’s the 50s, which is actually what they’ve been doing for years.
— HumanRightsCampaign (@HRC) April 7, 2016
See, the state of Mississippi is not in any way LGBT-friendly. It’s one of the absolute worst states in the country to be an LGBT person. Only 22% of voters there think gay marriage should be legal and the state bans same-sex adoption. Oh yeah, and Mississippi has no major cities that score higher than a 16 out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index, which factors in things like employment non-discrimination, transgender inclusive health benefits, and anti-bullying efforts in schools. It’s no secret that Mississippi is one of the most conservative states in America, but that isn’t an excuse. There are LGBT identified people living in the state and when HB 1523 was signed into law this week, it proved once again how far we still have to go toward achieving full equality. It’s not enough to have safe LGBT-friendly cities in pockets around the country—the fight isn’t over until America as a whole is safe for LGBT people to live openly.
Images via AP
Stay tuned to Milk for the next state to travel back in time.