Apr 05, 2016

It is deeply distressing that Mississippi lawmakers have approved a measure that could permit religion-based discrimination against many Mississippians, including LGBT persons, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Today, Gov. Phil Bryant signed H.B. 1523, which purports to permit government employees, corporations, individuals, healthcare providers and non-profit organizations to use religion as a justification to discriminate against same-sex couples, single mothers, divorcees and anyone who has had sex outside of marriage. This sweeping legislation is an attempt to provide legal cover for almost anyone to treat LGBT persons and many others as second-class citizens, AU asserts.

AU says the law is vulnerable to a legal challenge.

“Mississippi is trying to legalize unequal treatment,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “This goes against everything the United States stands for. It’s reminiscent of an earlier time in the state’s history and must not be allowed to stand.”

Religious freedom is a fundamental American value, but its misuse to justify discrimination is a troubling trend seen across the country, from Indiana to Georgia and now to Mississippi, noted Americans United.

Americans United is working to uphold the rights of all Americans though its Protect Thy Neighbor project, which seeks to stop the misuse of religious liberty to justify discrimination wherever it may arise.