Businesses and Community Leaders Sound Off Against Mississippi’s Anti-LGBT HB1523, Now Before Gov. Bryant

By Adam Polaski • April 1, 2016 • 11:38 am

On Friday morning, April 1, the Mississippi House of Representatives quickly cast their final vote on HB1523, a horrendous anti-LGBT bill that now goes before Governor Phil Bryant, who has five days to either sign the discrimination into law or do the right thing and veto.


HB1523 allows for a broad range of Mississippians – from individuals, to religiously affiliated organizations like hospitals, schools, and homeless shelters, to businesses – to legally cite their religious beliefs as an excuse to discriminate. The bill expressly allows these groups to discriminate based on their beliefs about marriage, sexual activity outside of marriage between different-sex couples, and transgender people. It is one of the worst anti-LGBT bills in the country – and it’s just one signature away from becoming law. Here are just some of the bill’s impacts. Under HB1523:

  • Government officials can refuse to do their job by not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
  • Transgender people can be legally denied medically necessary health care.
  • Homeless shelters, emergency service providers and foster care agencies can discriminate against LGBT people – including children and families.
  • Transgender children can be denied access to the restroom consistent with the gender they live as every day, in clear conflict with federal law.
  • Children could be forced into anti-LGBT “conversion therapy,” which has been condemned by every major child welfare organization in the nation.
  • Single mothers could be refused access to homeless shelters, day care providers, and more.

Major businesses – as well as community leaders – have called for urgent action against the discriminatory bill. Here’s a round-up of all who have voiced concern, outrage, and opposition so far:

Nissan: “Nissan is committed to providing our employees with an inclusive workplace environment that supports diversity.  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.”

MGM Resorts International: “MGM Resorts does not support the “Freedom of Conscience” bill.  We respect the diversity of our employees, guests and people in our communities.  Laws that permit businesses to decline to provide services to individuals because of this diversity result in decreased tourism and hurt the local economy.”

Tyson Foods International: “While we value religious freedom, we oppose legislation that allows discrimination. Our core values call on us to be respectful of each other and our policies prohibit unlawful harassment and discrimination in the workplace involving race, religion, color, age, national origin, veteran status, disability, genetics information, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other protected status under federal, state, or local law.” – Statement from Worth Sparkman, who indicated Tyson is reviewing the bill to determine further action. Toyota: “Toyota does not condone discrimination in any form and believes that inclusive treatment of all people is good for the workplace, marketplace and society as a whole.  In our experience, the best ideas come when everyone is equally engaged and valued.” Montel Williams, Television Personality   “I CANNOT be silent, or I become complicit.” @Montel_Williams Words of Truth on #msleg‘s anti-#LGBT #HB1523 @hrc — Meghan Stabler (@MeghanStabler) March 31, 2016

Lance Bass • Musician, Author & Activist, Originally from Mississippi

Find it in Fondren • Magazine in Jackson, MS

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