Mississippi Baseball Team Loses Out on Series Due to Anti-LGBTQ Law, HB 1523

By Shane Stahl • January 5, 2018 • 4:00 pm

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM)  has lost three games in an upcoming series due to the state’s discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ Religious Liberty Accommodations Act, also known as HB 1523.

Signed in April of 2016, the bill allows people to refuse services to LGBTQ people based on personal religious beliefs. The bill’s language also protects the following beliefs:

  • “Marriage should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman”
  • “Sexual relations are properly reserved for such a marriage”
  • “Gender is an immutable characteristic assigned at birth that cannot change”

Stony Brook, a university based in Long Island, New York, was scheduled to play USM in Hattiesburg from February 23-25. However, a ban on non-essential travel to Mississippi, signed by NY Governor Andrew Cuomo in response to HB 1523, prevented the series from happening. Instead, USM will take part in a tournament at Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches, Texas.

“I just hate losing the three home games,” USM head coach Scott Berry said. “I’m sure it’s going to cost us for sure. That’s three gates and everything that goes into a game day in terms of revenue.”

Mississippi is following in the footsteps of states such as North Carolina and Indiana, both of which saw major revenue losses after passing similar legislation. Both states eventually repealed or revised their laws as a way to staunch the loss of cash flow.

Furthermore, a 2016 decision from the NCAA Board of Governors has also taken a toll on the state; per the board, postseason games and tournaments must take place in states that demonstrate an environment that is, “safe, healthy, and free of discrimination.”

Currently, two cases challenging HB 1523 are pending before the United States Supreme Court, who will determine next week whether or not to grant review of the cases before the end of the 2018 term.

To follow the latest on non-discrimination in Mississippi, click here. To learn more about the cases before the Supreme Court, check out our Litigation Tracker.

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