Repeal Mississippi's Anti-LGB Law

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Repeal Mississippi’s Anti-LGB Law

Act now to protect equality: repeal House Bill 1523 in Mississippi. HB 1523 allows businesses and government workers to deny services to the lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) community.  

HB 1523, also known as the Religious Liberty Accommodations Act, allows business owners and government employees to deny services to same sex couples and other LGB folks on the basis of religious beliefs. Business owners may refuse to hire LGB people, fire them on the basis of sexuality, and refuse housing. Religious institutions may refuse to marry same-sex couples. If same-sex couples do get married, wedding related businesses (e.g., florists, clothing stores, caterers, event spaces, makeup artists, party planners) are legally allowed to refuse services. Does this legalized discrimination under the guise of religious freedom match your moral values? How would you feel if your sibling, child, or friend was refused service because of who they loved?

Brandiilyne Dear (BB), a Pastor of a church in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, advocates for LGB equality and has been featured in multiple documentaries. BB’s church welcomes people of all gender and sexual identities. HB 1523 means that BB and her wife, Susan, may not be able to adopt a child. Is religious freedom more important than providing a loving home for a child? Brandiilyne Dear is one of 60,000 LGBT individuals in Mississippi who are subject to legal discrimination based on their sexuality.

HB 1523 claims to protect Christians. Yet many Christians do not support this law.  Jesus said that Christians should support and love everyone. Loving God and your neighbor as yourself is the most important commandment (Matthew 22:36-40). People were all created equally in the image of God, and He looks on His creation with love and grace. When we choose to pass His love and grace on to some people and not others, we are not respecting God’s creation. Jesus loved all “outsiders” and made a point of including the marginalized and loving them for who they were. Supporting this legalization of discrimination against your neighbors instead of loving and accepting them is contradicting the very fundamentals of Jesus’s mission.

Instead, we should create a safe and accepting world to protect the physical and mental health of LGB individuals. LGB high school students are significantly more likely to experience physical violence and bullying both at school and online (Centers for Disease Control). Over 40% of queer students have seriously considered suicide, 60% have felt hopeless, and LGB students are up to five times more likely to use illegal drugs. Not only are LGB people at a greater risk for violence and mental illness, but anti-LGB discrimination is directly correlated with mental illness; LGB people who reported more instances of discrimination including not being hired for a job, being denied a bank loan, or getting treated with less respect, also had more depression, anxiety, and stress.

A similar bill in Indiana (the Religious Freedom Restoration Act) that enabled anti-LGBT discrimination in the name of religious freedom was repealed after pressure from protests and boycotts. We must do the same with HB 1523 and add comprehensive protections against discrimination based on sexuality. Many states have such protections in place; Mississippi should follow their example and adopt a bill like the Equality Act, which is currently proposed to Congress, to ensure all people are protected from discrimination based on sexuality.

Please sign this petition and help the LGBT community in Mississippi gain equal rights.

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