City Councils in Jackson & Biloxi Pass Resolutions Against Mississippi’s HB1523By Adam Polaski • April 6, 2016 • 11:15 am
Yesterday in Mississippi, Governor Phil Bryant signed into law one of the most egregious instances of anti-LGBT discrimination, House Bill 1523, which allows any business or individual to legally cite their religious beliefs as an excuse to discriminate against same-sex couples who marry, transgender people, and anyone who has sex outside of marriage.
Many businesses have expressed their disapproval and called for repeal of the clearly discriminatory bill – and just hours after it was signed into law, seven legal experts from Mississippi and beyond assessed that it is clearly unconstitutional, violating the First Amendment.
On the local level, City Council members in Jackson and Biloxi immediately condemned the passage of HB1523, issuing strong resolutions against the legislation.
The Jackson resolution – a “Commitment to Hospitality and Diversity” – passed unanimously. It says, in part:
“The City of Jackson believes in the essential worth and dignity of every human being, promotes fair and impartial treatment of all citizens, and encourages kindness, compassion, understanding and cooperation among all people. … The City of Jackson does not sanction or tolerate discrimination against its citizens or visitors and seeks to preserve and protect the rights of all individuals regardless of religion or identity.”
Jackson Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes said last night, “These are human beings whether you believe in what they believe in … To incite discrimination is always wrong. There should never be discrimination in this world.”
Jackson Mayor Tony T. Yarber issued his own additional statement, declaring, “As a predominantly black city in Mississippi, the Jackson community has endured racism, discrimination, and injustice over the years. We are Mississippi’s capital city, and as part of our declaration of being the ‘Bold New City,’ we will not discriminate against any individual because of race, religious beliefs or sexual orientation, nor do we support legislation that allows for such discrimination.”
In Biloxi, Mayor Andrew Gilichi took a strong stance against the legislation, saying, “We do not discriminate. Period.” He sent a resolution to the City Council yesterday he expected them to approve. It said, in part:
The City of Biloxi is widely known for its cultural diversity and hospitality to all people and welcomes all citizens and visitors,” and “the City of Biloxi does not sanction or tolerate discrimination against its citizens or visitors and seeks to preserve and protect the rights of all individuals regardless of religion or identity.”