Reactions to House Bill 1523

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) —  Gov. Phil Bryant singed House Bill 1523 Tuesday.

Many groups and organizations are reacting to his signature.

Here are some comments and statements about the controversial bill.

It’s embarrassing, shameful, and truly perplexing that the Republicans still don’t get it. LGBT Americans are entitled to equal protection under the law, just as everyone else. No exceptions. No allowances for discrimination. That we’re even still debating this in 2016 boggles the mind.

 Right to Discriminate’ measures signed into law by Republican governors are proof that the Republican Party’s leaders are stuck in the dark ages when it comes to equality and that they’ve been on a divisive path toward destruction since long before Donald Trump ran for president. In fact, the Republican National Committee has passed resolutions calling on state legislatures to pass discriminatory bathroom bills targeted at LGBT youth and calling on Congress to pass a national ‘Right to Discriminate’ law that they cynically call the First Amendment Defense Act.

 “No American should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. That’s not very complicated, and that’s not who we are as Americans. It’s long past time for the Republicans to get the message.”  – Statement from DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Congressman Bennie Thompson said he was disappointed by the Governor’s decision to sign the bill.

“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.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center also released a statement:

“Gov. Phil Bryant’s decision to sign HB 1523 into law is unconscionable. This newly enacted law – like the draconian anti-LGBT laws in other states – uses the guise of ‘religious freedom’ to justify discrimination, mistreatment and bigotry. It’s the same sort of rationale used by white supremacists in earlier eras to justify slavery and Jim Crow. The estimated 60,000 LGBT people in Mississippi deserve better. We need to stand up for the rights of all people.”

The Human Rights Campaign  President Chad Griffin is also opposing the bill.

“Gov Phil Bryant adds his name to a list of disgraced Southern governors by signing this hateful and discriminatory bill into law,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Governor Bryant refused to meet with LGBT people and even turned us away at the door of his office. He refused to listen to business leaders. He refused to listen to Mississippians. And now his state will suffer because of his ignorance and failure of leadership. Just as we’re doing elsewhere, we will continue to rally fair-minded voters, businesses, and civil rights advocates to repeal.”


Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel is also speaking out about HB 1523. They support the legislation.

“Mississippians from all walks of life believe that the government shouldn’t punish someone because of their views on marriage. The people of Mississippi, from every demographic, support this commonsense ‘live and let live’ bill, which simply affirms the freedom of all people to peacefully live and work according to their deeply held beliefs without threat of punishment from their own government. We commend the governor for signing into law protections for schools, churches, businesses, and public employees so that they won’t face government discrimination. After all, you’re not free if your beliefs are confined to your mind. What makes America unique is our freedom to peacefully live out those beliefs, and the Constitution protects that freedom.”

The Executive Director of the Mississippi Democratic Trust said he is disappointed that Gov. Bryant signed the bill.

“I am profoundly disappointed by Governor Bryant’s decision to sign HB 1523. This continues a repeated pattern by Republican lawmakers to involve themselves in the personal lives of Mississippi citizens at the expense of all of us. What’s worse, Governor Bryant had an opportunity to say in earnest, “Welcome to Mississippi, we’re open for business,” and instead he chose to add an asterisk. In signing this bill into law, Governor Bryant has once again made discrimination a state policy. “ – David McDowell

The ACLU does not agree with Bryant’ signing the bill.

“This is a sad day for the state of Mississippi and for the thousands of Mississippians who can now be turned away from businesses, refused marriage licenses, or denied housing, essential services and needed care based on who they are. This bill flies in the face of the basic American principles of fairness, justice and equality and will not protect anyone’s religious liberty. Far from protecting anyone from ‘government discrimination’ as the bill claims, it is an attack on the citizens of our state, and it will serve as the Magnolia State’s badge of shame.”


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