JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - The nation’s most sweeping anti-LGBT law has gone into effect across Mississippi.
HB 1523 is part of a wave of so-called religious exemption laws that are a backlash to the legalization of marriage equality. But even among its peers, HB 1523 stands out as extreme.
This law allows public employees, service providers and business owners to cite personal religious beliefs to justify discriminating against LGBT people.
Mississippi officials and service providers, such as doctors and store owners, may recuse themselves from serving LGBT individuals on the basis of three specific religious beliefs about gay marriage, transgender individuals, and sex before marriage.
HB 1523 enumerates three specific religious beliefs that will be protected above all others: First, marriage can only be between a man and a woman; second, sexual relations are “properly confined” to such a marriage; and third, sex is an innate characteristic that is assigned at birth and cannot change.
Mississippi is home to 60,000 LGBT adults and an estimated 11,400 transgender youth and adults, according to 2016 data published by the Williams Institute at the U.C.L.A. School of Law.
The state is also home to 3,500 same-sex couples, 29 percent of whom are raising children - the highest rate in the nation.
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