The Mississippi Senate has passed “religious freedom” legislation that has been described by some LGBT rights advocates as “the worst religious freedom bill to date.” The bill, which passed Wednesday 32-17, will now move back to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to be swiftly approved.
HB 1523 will prevent authorities from taking action against clerks who cite “religious belief” in denying same-sex marriage licenses and protect private businesses and religious organizations that deny services to the LGBT community. According to The Clarion-Ledger, based in Jackson, the legislation “states that marriage should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman; sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage; [and] male (man) or female (woman) refers to an individual’s sex at time of birth.”
Gov. Phil Bryant has said he is not sure if he will sign the bill, although his office has stated he does not believe the legislation to be discriminatory. Leaders in the business and community, however, disagree. On Thursday Nissan North America, which employs almost 6500 people at just one facility in the state, released a statement in opposition to the bill. Meanwhile, also on Thursday a federal judge issued an injunction blocking Mississippi’s ban on adoptions by same-sex couples. The state was the last in the U.S. to ban the practice.