By Sarah Fowler
The Mississippi Senate passed HB1523, known as the Religious Liberty Accommodation Act, Wednesday night in a 32-17 vote. The bill gives businesses the right to deny service to members of the LGBT community based on religious or moral beliefs without facing retribution from the state.
Within minutes of its passing, national organizations weighed in with their response.
The Human Rights Campaign called the acts of Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and the Mississippi Senate “shameful” and called on Gov. Phil Bryant to veto the bill.
“Following the shameful actions of Lt. Governor Reeves and the Mississippi Senate, Governor Bryant is left with a very clear choice on how to lead his state forward when H.B. 1523 comes to his desk,” said HRC president Chad Griffin. “Will he follow the example of Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard, who understood that discrimination in any form is unacceptable? Or will he align himself with North Carolina’s Governor McCrory, who, in sanctioning discrimination, has harmed both his constituents and the economy of North Carolina?”
A spokesman for Bryant said Thursday the governor has not decided whether to sign the bill.
The Civil and Human Rights Coalition compared the bill to Jim Crow. If Bryant does not veto the bill, they said, Mississippi will be set back to the time under former Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett.
“Ross Barnett, a former Mississippi governor, once used religion to justify Jim Crow laws by calling God ‘the original segregationist.’ Religious arguments have also been used in our nation to oppose women’s suffrage, interracial marriage, the acceptance of Asian immigrants, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the abolition of slavery,” the coalition said in an emailed statement. “Bryant’s choice is clear: Either follow the path of progress or turn back the clock to the time of Ross Barnett. The civil rights community strongly urges him to veto HB1523”
Thursday afternoon, Nissan North America released a statement on the bill, saying they oppose any legislation that would allow discrimination against the LGBT community. Nissan employs approximately 6,400 people at their Canton facility, according to Josh Clifton, senior manager of corporate communications.
“Nissan is committed to providing our employees with an inclusive workplace environment that supports diversity,” the company said via email. “It is Nissan’s policy to prohibit discrimination of any type, and we oppose any legislation that would allow discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.”
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