John M. Becker

Mississippi's 'Turn Away the Gays' Law Now in Effect

Filed By John M. Becker | July 09, 2014 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Christianists, discrimination, Mississippi, religious freedom, religious liberty, special rights, turn away the gays

mississippi-give-up-discrimination.pngMississippi's "turn away the gays" law, which was passed by lawmakers and signed by GOP Governor Phil Bryant in April, took effect last week on July 1.

The new law creates a special "right" for people and businesses to discriminate against LGBT people and other minority groups, as long as they claim they're doing so for religious reasons. As I reported back in spring, the law will have the likely effect of undermining or even blocking future efforts to pass local LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination statutes, as it specifically covers "any municipal or county ordinances, rules or regulations and the implementation of those laws," regardless of whether they were enacted before or after the law's enactment.

It could also allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense HIV medication, contraception, or hormone replacement therapy; permit businesses like restaurants, hotels, bakeries, photographers, reception halls, and formalwear stores to turn away same-sex couples; and undercut nondiscrimination policies at public universities.

According to The Advocate's Neal Broverman, LGBT advocates and officials in several cities are challenging the measure:

Several cities in Mississippi, including Jackson and Hattiesburg, are challenging the insidious law by passing resolutions affirming all patrons are welcome. Equality Mississippi is distributing stickers that proclaim, "We don't discriminate: If you're buying, we're selling."...

Local merchants and professionals like chef John Currence bristle at the law's effect on the state's already inhospitable reputation. "We are not going to sit idly by and watch Jim Crow get revived in our state," he said, vowing to fight the law.

It's great to see local LGBT advocates and allies finding creative ways to push back against Mississippi's discriminatory new "turn away the gays" law. Let's hope it's also challenged in court, as quickly as possible.

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