If you’re unaware of what’s currently happening in Mississippi, well I’m not sure if it’s simply not considered big news over in your neck of the woods, or you’ve just been living under a rock. I’m inclined to think it’s the latter since people clearly seem to know what’s going on.
Anyways, to catch you up to speed it’s called HB 1523. Mississippi business owners already have a right to refuse service to people. But back in April of 2014, there was an initial bill, SB 2681, that our Governor signed into law, specifically citing that business owners could refuse service to the LGBT community based on “deeply held” religious beliefs. This year, HB 1523 hit the floor, and our Governor signed it into law as well. It’s just the same thing all over again, but more damning for the LGBT community, and it also attacks engagers in pre-marital sex.
So, in 2014 not a lot happened. Petitions by Mississippi natives against the bill were drafted and signed. Telephone calls were made and emails were sent to the Governor to veto. Business owners in Jackson, the state’s capital, started up the If You’re Buying, We’re Selling campaign in order to disassociate themselves with the new hateful and discriminatory law, and to show solidarity to the LGBT community in general and basically to everyone that they were places that wouldn’t discriminate.
Businesses, brick and mortar as well as online, happily joined the cause. The Sister and I did as well for or online business. A few Mississippi celebrities and businesses publicly stated their outrage. Cities in Mississippi began issuing individual resolutions stating that they did not agree with the Governor’s decision. People were mad, in this state and in others, but that was about all that happened.
This year, Mississippians were floored that the Governor was trying to pass practically the same law. Besides the fact that either of the laws are terrible in and of themselves, or that this one basically closed any loop holes found in the other one, it was a waste of time and money for the state as well.
So, again petitions were drawn up and signed and calls were made to the Governor to veto. The If You’re Buying, We’re Selling campaign started back up in full force. But, something else was happening to. In 2014, non Native Mississippians were slamming Mississippi (and not merely its officials, but everyone) in comment sections. Other than that, there was really no interest in the story, though it was picked up all over the US, Canada, and Europe.
This year, however, all of that expanded and exploded. While only two Mississippi cities have re-drafted their resolutions of disagreement with the Governor, the other cities’ resolutions still stand. Mississippians, the citizens and not the elected officials it appears, pretty much only do something once. The cities drafted resolutions in 2014 and they still stand, so why reissue new one’s about the same topic? I’m sure people might think that now these cities are no longer in opposition to the Governor, but let me assure you, if that were the case they would have gone to the trouble to retract their resolutions, but not necessarily reissue the same one again.
It’s interesting to note that in both years, the capital of the state which is obviously home to the Governor and home to the state government has pretty much unanimously and vehemently opposed both bills. It’s like our Governor lives in a little plastic bubble or either has no idea where he even lives. He claims to do things for the majority of Mississippians; things that the majority wants, but he really only does what he wants, or else the majority of this state’s citizens wouldn’t be causing any backlash at all to what he does. I’m not even trying to say that Jackson is the majority. It’s just that his own “home” doesn’t agree with what he does, but this far reaches into all portions of the state with citizens in opposition who are speaking out about how the Governor isn’t representing them on these issues.
Also far more celebrities and businesses in Mississippi called this bill out. 95 Mississippi Authors publicly stated that they absolutely oppose this new bill. Major corporations started in or who are currently residing in the state, along with smaller businesses, celebrities and people have also publicly stated their opposition.
But now there are actual things, from non-Mississippians happening, things which weren’t happening back in 2014.
People are banning official travel to Mississippi. I’m sure these places would ban all travel in general, but that would be a bit too dictorial? I think they should. This law is atrocious. But, it’s also sad that Mississippi was already the bastard child of the nation and now we’re being isolated and shoved into the corner because of this.
- United Kingdom
- Cincinnati, Ohio
- Salt Lake City, Utah
- Miami, Florida
- Portland, Oregon
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Los Angeles, California
- New York
- San Francisco, California
- Providence, Rhode Island
Mississippi Picnic Cancelled. This is a rather huge event, started in 1979, where Mississippians living in New York City decided to come together and celebrate being Mississippians. It became a rather huge event drawing even non-Mississippians to the picnic every year. Apparently even our Governor, Phil Bryant, enjoyed going, and is now sad that New York cancelled it. Boo-hoo, it’s your own damn fault.
Natchez, Mississippi drafted a petition to leave the state. I don’t know if Louisiana would have them and most people might think it is stupid, but they are trying to oppose the new law in the best way they see possible. Perhaps they think the Governor will take notice if whole cities want to leave? Probably not. Honestly the man must have blinders on.
The Human Rights Campaign: Mississippi is working non-stop to get the new law repealed. They’re also calling out who was in support of the bill as well as keep the LGBT community informed of what to do when something happens; how to take action.
Portland Mayor refuses to commission USS Portland in Mississippi. It’s a naval ship and the event was going to take place in Pascagoula, Mississippi. There’s a ship building yard there, so I’m assuming that the USS Portland was built here. It was supposed to be a big hoopla. I’m unsure, but I’m assuming that the Portland Mayor was invited by the US Navy, simply because his city has the same name as the new ship? Anyways, they’ve moved the commissioning out to Oregon. I’m saying assume a lot, because while I did check other articles besides the one that I linked to, no one was really specific on the details, so I’m just trying to patch the story together better here.
While, not technically Mississippi news, Deutsche Bank, which is a German bank, but also a major banking group in Europe, pulled their nine million dollar expansion from North Carolina over its new anti-LGBT law. We’re never as important as other states in regards to things like this, but if it’s happening in North Carolina, then it would be happening here. In fact, if Deutsche Bank were ever even considering expanding to Mississippi, which I think would be awesome, they certainly wouldn’t now.
Robin Roberts as the face of Mississippi. Mississippians like to claim their famous citizens. It doesn’t matter if that citizen left the state long ago like Jim Henson who only spent his very early years here, or if they completely denounce it like Oprah Winfrey. Even if they are openly gay, like news reporter Robin Roberts, Mississippians, generally, will still want to claim her, whether they are anti gay or not.
So, she’s on the cover for the official Mississippi tour guide this year. While this broke as news after HB 1523 was passed into law, I had already visited my cities visitor center and picked up a copy of this months back in February. So, while it wasn’t news to me, initially it was pretty awesome, because she really is trolling the state pretty hard being our poster girl for the state amidst this deplorable bill.
However, I have one problem with this. Where was she in 2014? She didn’t give a public statement over that bill, as she has done now with this one. Also… again. Where was she in 2014? Mississippi signs an anti-LGBT bill into law and a year and a half later she says, “Absolutely I’ll be on the cover of the tour guide!” It is important to not that the initial 2014 law was never repealed. She doesn’t express in her new statement that she was hoping to stick it to Mississippi. She simply says this new law breaks her heart. OK, so why didn’t the original law break your heart, then? Probably because nobody, and I mean, basically nobody really cared about the initial law. Now there’s a huge storm of backlash and people who didn’t previously care, suddenly care. Seems a bit… wrong to me.
The non Mississippi organization, Planting Peace, put up a billboard in Jackson to criticize the new law.
The film industry is pulling out of the state and musicians are refusing to play shows. I’m sure it would be more people, but this state is not really the musical venue it once was anyway, so while Ani Difranco refused to play her show in North Carolina, and Duran Duran decided to play their show; complete with large rainbow flag and all proceeds going to the North Carolinian LGBT community to fight their own “Religious Freedom” law, that’s not really too much of a hot topic down here. But Bryan Adams did cancel his Mississippi show because of the new law.
Also, several film production companies have either pulled out of the state completely or cancelled their future line-up of productions. Tracy Morgan cancelled his show recently, Sharon Stone pulls current film,
L.A. is boycotting all business with Mississippi.
Ellen Degeneres spoke out about Mississippi on her show recently. I watched the segment online and if you can view it, please do so. Her words were really great regarding the issue, plus she’s just so damn funny.
And not that it’s all that conclusive and is a bit of a stretch to say the least, but Conservative Bill O’Reilly called the new law discriminatory on his own show. It’s not an out and out statement of being against it, and he might merely be stating something without any feeling behind it, which is why I’m calling it a bit of a stretch because I’m certain this doesn’t mean he’s an LGBT ally by any means, but it is there, he did make the statement.
I am wondering, however, how come none of this happened back in 2014. To my knowledge, and I was all up in the current news then (though am hard pressed to find much news about it now) no one was banning travel to the state of Mississippi or boycotting it. The film companies were already here and did not pull out. Musicians did not cancel their shows.
The initial bill and this one are basically the same for the LGBT community. A non Mississippi LGBT coalition was very upset back in 2014 and has been trying to work with areas here to repeal things, but other than them and Mississippians, there wasn’t much happening in the form of outrage. Why is that?
The Sister’s college friend, Mitchell Moore, the Jackson baker has become an internet celebrity. This happened back in 2014, when his words against the first law went viral and he was interviewed on… something. Was it NPR then or CNN or something? And it happened again with his statements about this newest law, landing him on The Huffington Post as well as NPR. He owns Campbell’s Bakery in Fondren and in Madison.
The Sister says he’s the perfect opposition to speak out against this bill and I have to agree with her. First and foremost, while both of the “Religious Freedom” laws that have been enacted in this state do target the LGBT community in its entirety (and can be interpreted to include anyone for anything, be it race, religion, etc), it first and foremost really targets anything and everything to do with first weddings and then family. So bakers, priests, county clerks issuing marriage licenses, and then adoption, or family rights pertaining to illness and death, etc.
Mitchell Moore is a baker, so his business is one that directly falls into one of the categories specifically outlined in both bills. He is also a white, conservative, Christian, Free-Mason male. He is the very definition of the establishment that proposed and voted both of these bills into laws. Yet, while being all of these things that he shares in common with the state government, he is also accepting of everyone. He is one of the initial creators of the If You’re Buying, We’re Selling campaign along with hair designer Eddie Outlaw, whose business, William Wallace Salon and Fondren Barber Shop, is also located in the Fondren neighbourhood of Jackson.
Here in Mississippi, businesses are classified as a personhood. It is a weird category where they are allotted more freedom than a basic business in some other state, and are sort of lumped in with the people of Mississippi. However, individual people don’t really have the right to discriminate, where businesses do.
The LGBT community are not seen as people in Mississippi, under the law. It varies by southern state to southern state, but a lot of them do not recognize the LGBT community as people; afforded the same rights as other groups. Some southern states have a lot of pluses in their laws for the LGBT community, but not one of them has all of it covered. One state may have lots of rights in place for the community, but then they still have the “you can be fired for being gay” bit in their law. Or the “you can be evicted for being gay” bit in their law. Or both.
Where as, no where in the south, legally, can you be fired or evicted for being a different race or religion; so black people and Jewish people are protected under vast laws in southern states, though it certainly wasn’t always that way. Interracial Marriages became legal in 1967. Many southern states did not want it to be legal and there is still discrimination now, though not nearly as much prior to the federal ruling nor immediately following it.
That is only one example. While these things are federal law, southern states, including Mississippi do discriminate against other races, religions, and man and woman marriages. However, all of that is simmering low, so to speak, and the newest “horrible” thing in the south are gay people. Gay people in general, but certainly gay people wanting to be married and to a lesser extent transgendered people. I say less, only because only now are most southerners who would be against it are even realizing what that means. Most of those southerners are still in denial about that being a thing.
SB 2681 | “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” – 2014
This bill is wordy and there are numerous points, so I’ll just highlight and keep this one, as well as HB 1523 simple.
- A business is allowed to refuse service to anyone based on “deeply held” religious beliefs.
- A business or corporation is allowed to refuse healthcare or healthcare items to families and individuals based on “deeply held” religious beliefs.
- “In God We Trust” will officially be added to the state seal of Mississippi.
It is not logical, merely from the stand point of law, as the Federal Government could still come in and say that the business owner was acting against a Federal Law, but that Mississippi would use tax payers money to defend the business if they so felt. And we must remember that the LGBT community is sorely lacking in rights here in this state, as well as other states throughout the south, and that they are currently the hot topic for the groups of people wanting to defend their “deeply held” religious beliefs.
The second point was mainly a way to limit birth control. The majority of state government officials, including the Governor, yet not the majority of Mississippians, detest abortion, but also birth control, not understanding that access to birth control greatly decreases the need for abortions. The state is constantly trying to find ways to limit birth control, do away with sex ed classes (unless they tell you that abstinence is the way), and shutter any and all Planned Parenthood clinics, which the majority of services they provide are not abortions, though this is what the state officials believe. Also as soon as they passed this law, those people did immediately want to refuse service to the LGBT community and did want to exclude contraceptives from their medical plans.
HB 1523 | “Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination” – 2016
This bill is basically the same base, but they tacked more onto it to, I suppose, close any loop holes from the previous bill. Cover all of their basis, I suppose. It is far worse than the last one, but I’m still wondering why there was barely any backlash over the last one. I’m not the only one who thought that the first bill was deplorable in and of itself and along with other fellow Mississippians tried to get it vetoed and repealed.
- A business is allowed to refuse service to anyone based on “deeply held” religious beliefs.
- Any individual or religious institution may refuse service to anyone based on “deeply held” religious beliefs.
- Any of the above may refuse services or help to people who have engaged in pre-marital sex.
- One must be the sex they were born as.
So, there’s a lot going on here. A lot. Not only did they hammer out the businesses refusing services to people “better”, but they’ve broadened everything.
So, while it still stands from the original law, that any business can refuse service to anyone because of their “deeply held” religious beliefs, this new law goes on to grant that right to individuals as well as religious institutions. It also specifically states businesses and organizations that have anything to do weddings and marriage. Basically stamping it out in a bill to give free license to these people to refuse to perform weddings, sign marriage licenses, bake cakes, take photographs, arrange flowers, etc for gay weddings. It doesn’t specifically state LGBT, but since this is the current hoopla in the nation as well as the state, you know this is what they’re trying to achieve.
This also goes for adoptions as well, as those super conservative Christian people do not want gay people to be able to adopt because it will, I don’t know… gayify the kids? *rolls eyes* Anyways, foster parents are now allowed to out LGBT teens, which would mean these teens would have to go through conversion therapy. Ya know, you’ve heard about it. Where they take the wayward gay kid and beat the word of Christ into them to turn them straight. It’s a deplorable thing to perpetrate onto another human, and now this opens the path for teens to be forced into it, more so than they already were.
Ah, pre-marital sex. For a lot of Mississippians, and southerners in general sex is this weird thing. Sex is only between a man and a woman. Sex is immoral and wrong until you are married. If you’ve already been married, then divorce, who cares if you have sex out-of-wedlock. Abstinence before marriage is key and contraceptives are of the devil as God intended you to have babies and you’re denying those babies from being born.
I am not a sexy person. As in, I don’t really care about sex. One way or the other. But I am not delusional enough to think that humans do not have sex. They do. Even Republican, conservative, white Christians have sex. Even before they are married. They use contraception. They even look at gay porn. They have extra marital affairs. They sleep with prostitutes. Not all of them, obviously, but it’s not like they are these super religious, super “clean” people that they try to convince you of. People will always have sex and not merely to try to produce offspring. It’s just ridiculous to try and police that.
So, if you are an unwed pregnant girl, this law will grant people the right to deny you services, whether its flour and eggs, or ultrasounds and prenatal vitamins. It’s their decision. If you are a single mother, they won’t ask questions, so it doesn’t matter if you kids were conceived during marriage, the same applies to you. If it’s found out that you have engaged in pre-marital sex, you can still be denied anything. From adoption to marriage, to anything. It’s not your decision, it’s there’s.
Not only that but Transgendered people are now clearly targeted, where they were only included before. You must be the sex you were born as. Period. You can only use your born sex bathroom, wear your born sex appropriate clothing, use your born sex name and gender. There can be absolutely no transitioning or any kind, whether through surgery, hormones, etc.
I totally agree with the massive uproar over this new law. It is certainly warranted it. It’s terrible. It never mentions a single group outright (except for pre-marital sex, which is basically everyone in the entire state, go figure that one out), as with SB 2681, but we all know who this bill is targeting because of those peoples outcries against the LGBT community. But the way in which both bills, now laws, are stated, they are all-encompassing. I think someone would be hard pressed to find a “deeply held” religious view against black people, though I’m sure people will try. But, Christians can certainly find a “deeply held” religious view against Jewish and Muslim people. While these two groups might not be as easy to take down since they are afforded rights and protections in laws that the LGBT community doesn’t have, they have finangled this law to try to circumvent the Federal Government as much as possible.
No one has denied service and been sued, yet. Will Mississippi come to their aid? Will the Federal Government step in? No one really knows how it might play out, but both SB 2681 and HB 1523 are nothing but hate mongering in the disguise of “religious freedoms”. The people who proposed and voted these bills in don’t like anyone except good, non-sex having, baby making, upstanding, white, Christian conservatives. If they only like that one group, then all others are in danger. Hang the Federal government, it seems like these people will die trying to “cleanse” this state of all the non worthy people.
It’s a scary reality that we are heading towards, though some people just can’t see beyond their blinders.
Leslie B. McLemore II wrote a piece for the Jackson Free Press, entitled Blame Me For HB 1523, the New Jim Crow Legislation in Mississippi. It was a great piece and he makes some excellent points in it.
Mississippians leave the state, garner education and new ways of thinking, but never return. He, like many Mississippians who left, will speak ill of the state, but not return to help by bringing back their new knowledge, thus becoming part of the problem.
I know this to be true, on a basic level. In Mississippi, families do what families have always done, they don’t think about what could be, because they only know what is. So here, the huge thing for girls is to hit a certain age, get married as quickly as possible and have lots and lots -o- babies. Honestly I think babies are so much so the goal that in most communities in Mississippi, if you’re not married, that’s OK because you had the babies, and that’s what matters.
The Sister and I didn’t know anything except this while growing up. This is what was expected and what we were supposed to achieve. The Sister went to live in L.A., but she came back, bringing her knowledge with her. She was twenty-one and engaged to be married, to a “good” southern boy, while she was out there. Everyone kept exclaiming, “BUT! You’re so young!” Contrary to what most southerners think, the Californian’s weren’t telling The Sister that marriage and babies are bad, or that she should never follow that path, they were merely saying that at twenty-one, who says that you must get married right now. One of them was even a born and bred southern woman!
It’s true. One doesn’t have to get married young and start popping out babies. We don’t live on rural farms anymore. For the most part people don’t get up at four in the morning to eat the biggest, most carb/protein heavy breakfast, to have energy to work the farm all day, in order to be in bed by the time the sun sets. Unless you are a farmer, one does not have to live life this way.
We have electricity now. We’re not using candles and kerosene lamps. Yet, lots of people wake up and fall asleep with the chickens, so to speak, and we also eat huge breakfasts with biscuits, gravy, sausage, bacon, eggs, grits, etc. Though this amount of food is not needed for the energy that we expend on a typical day. It’s too much food and is one reason why southerners are overweight. Because they hold on to traditions that are actually hurting them in this day and age.
I’m not knocking southern food, as those breakfast foods are phenomenal. But typical people eating that are adding all these pounds to their diet and do not have a lifestyle that burns all of those calories off in their daily lives. Perhaps have an egg and one biscuit. That sort of thing.
We also have longer life expectancies than we did and fewer children die in childbirth or in early age, nor do we need a million children to work the farm. But, mama and daddy got married at eighteen, had twelve kids, ate a hearty breakfast every morning and kept odd sleeping schedules and by god, we’re going to do the same because if it was good enough for mama and daddy, it’s peachy keen with me… and our children will agree, and so will their children and so on and so forth.
Without new knowledge coming in, people only see what they want to see, like tradition, but neglect to see what is staring them in the face. Like the main example of how one does not need to get up at four am and fall asleep by six pm. We have electricity. Southerners aren’t stupid, we know there is electricity, but most don’t take an objective look at that and think why their ancestors and relatives were keeping these times, they merely follow suit. It’s the same with getting married young and having large families. It isn’t needed, but many still follow it because they just simply go with the routine of what’s been done before without looking at the situation objectively.
McLemore also goes on to mention that he was surprised that the most resistance to this bill, in the state’s government, was by that of the black community. For the most part, southern black people are very religious. They are Christians and really like the bible. They have generally always wanted to side with what the bible says, and with other Christians. But, this time the law was too Jim Crow for them not to stand up and take notice.
He also notes that with so many people making a mass exodus from the state, that there’s not enough people to rally others to vote. There are plenty of people in opposition to what the state government is doing, yet a lot of people will get hooked on sentiment like “Jaysus.” or “But think about the babies.” and vote for people who do not actually represent them. The others simply don’t care enough, thinking “what’s the point.” The people in opposition of this bill, or similar points of discrimination have voting power behind them. He states that we could overturn the people in government and easily get better elected officials in office. But, we believe that the numbers aren’t in our favour, and some of us are voting traditionally or being swayed by the “perfect” words and then we’re left standing with new laws like HB 1523.