March 31, 2016
The Senate passed http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/2016/pdf/history/HB/HB1523.xml">House Bill 1523 on March 30, which would allow certain elected officials, businesses and religious organizations to not offer services based on their religious belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. Although the bill's proponents say it protects individuals from government discrimination, its critics say the bill actually allows discrimination based on religious belief. Read about the full debate here.
Below is a list of organizations that oppose House Bill 1523:
Mississippi Economic Council, the state's Chamber of Commerce
The Mississippi Economic Council has updated its overall policy on diversity and opposes HB1523. Full statement below:
“As the State Chamber of Commerce for a state that has proven its hospitable and business-friendly approach, MEC opposes efforts that would intentionally or unintentionally prevent Mississippi businesses from implementing and enforcing non-discrimination policies or that would limit diversity and inclusion impacting their customers and employees. HB 1523 conflicts with this policy."
IBM "IBM is disappointed by the Mississippi legislature's passage of H.B. 1523, because we believe this legislation with permit discrimination against people based on their marriage status, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.
"IBM encourages Governor Bryant not to approve H.B 1523, and will continue to support passage by Congress of the Equality Act, which would provide federal non-discrimination protection to all Americans."
"AT&T supports our freedom of speech and religion just as vigorously as we oppose discrimination. Legislation that permits discrimination against any of our employees or customers conflicts with our core values. Our position on discrimination is simple; we oppose it."
Levi Strauss & Co. "We believe that treating all people equally and fairly is good for business, and discrimination has no place anywhere. #NoOnHB1523"
Mass Mutual Tweet: "Diversity is a core value @massmutual. We encourage Gov. @PhilBryantMS to keep MS open for business and veto #HB1523."
Lance Bass Tweet: "An anti-LGBT bill in Mississippi is dangerously close to becoming law. Take action with me & @HRC to say #NoOnHB1523 hrc.org/Mississippi"
Statement: "Mississippi is my home—I was born there and grew up there. My husband Michael and I frequently travel back to Laurel to spend time with family. However, the state we know and love is under attack by hateful lawmakers who want to legalize discrimination. If they have their way, on our next visit, Michael and I could be kicked out of a hotel or refused emergency shelter in a storm just because of who we are. That does not sound like the Hospitality State. We are better than this bill, and I urge my fellow Mississippians to join me in calling on Governor Bryant to veto HB1523 when it reaches his desk." Read Diana Bass, Lance's mother, testifying to her church about learning that her son was gay: http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2014/apr/30/diane-bass-testimony-her-church/" rel="nofollow">http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/...
ACLU of Mississippi
Executive director of the ACLU of Mississippi Jennifer Riley-Collins released this statement today:
"The ACLU of Mississippi is deeply disturbed that the Mississippi State Senate passed House Bill 1523 by a vote of 31-17. This bill allows freedom of religion to cover prejudice and to justify discrimination. Freedom of religion is one of our most fundamental rights as Americans, but that freedom does not give any of us the right to harm or mistreat others.
The ACLU of MS believes that all people are free to follow and practice their faith – or no faith at all – without government influence or interference, and that the government remains completely neutral regarding matters of religion and belief. When we seek to codify discriminatory legislation, we tarnish the treasure of religious freedom and the highest ideals of our democracy.
Legislators have gone out of their way to stigmatize and marginalize same-sex couples by pushing this legislation. The Mississippi State Legislature should look for ways to bring Mississippians together, not divide us along religious lines. The ACLU of Mississippi urges the state legislature to kill this divisive bill in conference."
National Association of Social Workers, Mississippi Chapter
The MS Chapter issued this statement (partially reproduced below) to their members:
"This act allows any individual to use their individual, personal beliefs to refuse to provide a wide array of services (see definitions below) to those who qualify. It also includes services provided by the state of Mississippi, which can prohibit our ability to carry out our responsibilities as licensed social workers, or even threaten social worker jobs.
The actions in this bill violate the NASW Code of Ethics, have significant implications for social work practice, and any other licensed, certified or credentialed professional in Mississippi!!"
Human Rights Campaign Mississippi Millsaps College Faculty (75 percent of faculty)
Part of http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/documents/2016/mar/30/millsaps-professor-letter-opposing-hb1523/">the letter was reproduced below:
"Professors of Millsaps College oppose Mississippi House Bill the so-called “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act”. The sponsors and supporters of HB 1523 seek to allow, protect, and advance discrimination against persons in the state of Mississippi.
-We are appalled that HB 1523 encourages government officials and other citizens to break anti-discrimination laws of the United States.
-We are alarmed about the oppression and endangerment of many persons that would result from adoption of this law.
-We are dismayed because this bill would strengthen Mississippi’s reputation as a close-minded, prejudiced state, which would, in turn, hurt our businesses, schools, and institutions.
-We deplore the use of religion as a reason for discriminating against people, here and around the world.
-We deeply disagree with the many leaders of Mississippi who approved and voted for this discrimination; if the bill is adopted, we look forward to the day when it is struck down by fair-minded courts.
-We sincerely hope that this horrendous legislation never becomes law and that Mississippi legislators no longer pass bills that violate human rights.
-We call on and hope for other persons, businesses, organizations, and institutions to publicly express their support for civil-rights and to oppose this uncivil legislation."
Several individuals and local businesses have expressed their opposition to HB1523 online. If you are a local business owner or organization leader with a press statement regarding HB1523, please email it to state government reporter Arielle Dreher at [email protected].
Nissan The automaker stopped short of denouncing the bill, but did come out against discrimination against LGBT people:
“Nissan is committed to providing our employees with an inclusive workplace environment that supports diversity. 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.”
Tyson Foods Tyson Foods did not have a comment specifically on HB 1523, but did offer the following statement on this type of state legislation:
"While we value religious freedom, we oppose legislation that allows discrimination. Our core values call on us to be respectful of each other and our policies prohibit unlawful harassment and discrimination in the workplace involving race, religion, color, age, national origin, veteran status, disability, genetics information, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other protected status under federal, state, or local law."
**Southern Poverty Law Center" Jody E. Owens, managing attorney in Mississippi at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said in a statement:
“HB 1523 is an outrage. Discrimination masking as 'religious freedom" is still discrimination. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant should follow Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal's lead and veto this toxic legislation. Enough is enough."
Jackson Ward 7 Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon Statement:
"The Legislature's passage of this discriminatory anti-LGBT bill -- and make no mistake that this is exactly what HB 1523 is -- is much worse than a giant step backward for Mississippi. It's a huge slap in the face to all of us -- gay or straight -- who believe in the dignity of all human beings. It's a feeble attempt to cloak hate, fear, and prejudice under the false cover of "religious freedom."
"There are many practical, legal/Constitutional, and economic reasons why this is a terrible bill. They have been recounted over and over again. We have seen, for example, the negative economic consequences that have followed similar bills in other parts of this country.
"But I want to focus on the stark and simple fact of what this bill attempts to do. It codifies a belief that, in my opinion, is no longer shared by the majority of Mississippians: that our gay brothers and sisters are, somehow, second-class citizens. Our state has a dark history of attempting to relegate some people to a lesser status, simply because of who they are. It was wrong then, and it is wrong now.
"There are so many of us here in Jackson and throughout Mississippi who want to see Mississippi live up to the better angels of its nature. We have so many good things to offer here, and so many good people. It's time to show it."
Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi
Statement by the Rt. Rev. Brian R. Seage, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi HB 1523 Press Release 033116 - In Light of Senate Passage By The Rt. Rev. Brian R. Seage
"I am profoundly disheartened by the Mississippi State Senate’s approval of HB 1523, which codifies discrimination against many Mississippi citizens.
"I would respectfully encourage Governor Bryant to veto the bill, if it reaches his desk.
"Our baptismal covenant requires that each of us will respect the dignity of every human being. It does not provide an exception to that respect.
"The Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi stands as one with our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community and the Human Rights Campaign. We respect their painful journey as they have sought full inclusion in our society. Many of them share a Christian faith that is deep and profound. We should embrace their quest for equality and justice rather than placing obstacles in their pathway.
"I am aware that some Christian bodies say this legislation is needed. I disagree. It addresses a conflict which does not exist. The Episcopal Church embraces all persons who seek to follow our Lord, and we honor all persons who yearn for equality in this society. Our doors remain open to all God’s children."
Sharla Bachelder, MoveWithSharla.com, Realtor with EXIT Summer House Realty. "I cannot speak for the brokerage where I work, I am speaking for me personally as a self employed, 1099 employee."
Vicki Robinson Slater (attorney, former candidate for governor) "Me. The Senators and Representatives who voted against it."
Mitchell Moore, Campbell's Bakery, Jackson
Marika Gunnels Cackett "As an ordained minister, wedding planner and crappy baker, I am COMPLETELY AGAINST this bill. And if I can help any one in any way let me know."
Anders Ferrington Jackson attorney
Suzanne Moak Maczka and SMoak Salon Jackson
Skin by MD Diane Henson, Highland Village, Jackson
Todd and Amelia Willis of Willis & Willis PLLC
Laura Lillard "I am strongly against it. I stood with HRC Mississippi and the ACLU of Mississippi Tuesday to protest this hateful bill before the Senate passed it last night.""
Frank Farmer "Frank Farmer and F3 Documentary Photography, LLC condemn this legislation in the strongest possible terms."
Oliver Diaz "At least one retired Supreme Court Justice..."
Salon 11 Jackson
Cee Emm Purvis ETA EPSILON GAMMA SORORITY INC and Eta Iota Mu Fraternity Inc and its founders
Bobby Cleveland 100% opposed
Kenneth Paige II ...and (against) the airport voters too...
Raad Cawthon The Mississippians In Exile group are all on board.
David Rae Morris "I'm with Bobby Cleveland!"
Reilly Morse president, Mississippi Center for Justice
Carolyn Bogart DeLeo, artist absolutely opposed
Maude Schuyler Clay, artist
William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation
John Currence, restaurateur, Oxford, Miss.
Wendy Shenefelt Wendy Shenefelt Justin McCreary and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Jackson. And of course any Shenefelt who has ever taken a breath.
Christopher Mims Me!
Melissa Blanks My company - D2 Tech Solutions!! Pritchett Engineering and Planning Of course!
SE Lock and Key
Pure Romance by Jacqueline Sledge opposes absolutely!
Neely Whites, Neely Whites Tax and Financial LLC
Perfectly Pettable Party Animals & Pony Rides our sticker is on our horse van smile emoticon
Significant Developments, LLC
Shana Spencer "Me! Me! I'm opposed!"
J. David Waugh
Lea Campbell, Matthew Campbell Flag for All Mississippians - Gulf Coast
The Weeks (band: theweeksmusic.com) "Deeply disappointed in Mississippi today. There is no way to spin this "religious freedom" bill as anything but Jim Crow part 2."
Kit Williamson, "Mad Men" actor, gay Jackson native, former JFP intern
“I wouldn’t want to buy a cake from a bigot anyway, but I can think of nothing more traumatizing than having the happiest day of your life tainted with bigotry. It saddens me to think that it’s now legal to treat gay couples in Mississippi like second class citizens.”
“It is my sincere hope for any couple in Mississippi, gay or straight, that they will be treated with respect and kindness by everyone they encounter on the road to the altar because a wedding should be a day filled with love, not hate.”
Find it in Fondren
"It would be easy for our non-political, non-controversial publication to sit back, stay silent and politely smile at the political climate of our state.
Let me unequivocally say that we, Find It In Fondren, support, love and accept all people, regardless of race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation or otherwise. Ours is a brand of inclusion, not exclusion, and we want everyone - all people - to enjoy our shops, our restaurants, our neighbors and our events and feel a sense of welcome and respect in "Jackson's Hippest Neighborhood."
Paul and Sophie"
Planned Parenthood Southeast and Felicia Brown-Williams, director of public policy
A Plus Signs and Creative Inc., Jackson, Miss. Scott Allen says: Yes, I am against it!
** The University of Mississippi Critical Race Studies Group"
Read the JFP's full coverage of the LGBT battle Mississippi at jfp.ms/lgbt