The responses to Gov. Phil Bryant's signing of HB 1523 today are coming fast and furious, but this one by U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson really stands out. Here it is, verbatim:
“Last week, the Mississippi Legislature agreed on a version of House Bill No. 1523, the so-called “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act” and, today, Governor Phil Bryant – in an act that could have long lasting negative impacts on the state – chose not to resist the forces in this state that paint Mississippi as backwards, insensitive and discriminatory but instead sided with those forces and signed the bill into law. The bill will allow circuit clerks to deny marriage licenses, prevent certain individuals from having access to adoption, stop citizens from having access to medical treatment and will go as far as to regulate clothing choices for kids in school, and generally, provide for government-regulated discrimination.”
“The effect of signing this bill could be far-reaching and gravely damaging to our state. Industries that are considering bringing jobs to our state and talented individuals considering bringing their skills to our state could decide to turn their backs on Mississippi just as the Governor and State Legislature have turned their backs on our own citizens and neighbors. Much needed federal funding for things like transportation, infrastructure, and agriculture might be jeopardized now that this ill-advised and, indeed, discriminatory bill has been signed into law in Mississippi.”
“We have seen these types of ‘religious freedom’ bills in other states and we have seen the negative impact that they have had on industry and tourism in those states. I am deeply concerned that the same negative economic impacts will now befall Mississippi. For example, the NCAA has already placed the state of Mississippi under a postseason ban because the state still flies a flag bearing the emblem of the confederacy. Now, the state has upped the ante and adopted a bill that has the potential of legalizing discrimination. Who knows what penalties and consequences this law will bring from the NCAA and any of a number of other governing bodies with interests in the state?”
“Today, by signing this discriminatory bill, Governor Phil Bryant turned the clock back to a time when discrimination was codified through Jim Crow laws and poll taxes instead of looking forward to a more inclusive and tolerant future. This is no religious freedom bill but rather a bill that gives freedom to those who discriminate.”
See jfp.ms/lgbt for ongoing coverage of HB 1523 and the fight for LGBT rights in Mississippi.