On April 5, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed HB 1523 into law over the objections of LGBTQ advocates, business groups, and religious organizations. The law prevents the state from taking action against state employees, private businesses, or religious organizations who choose to deny services to people on the basis of very specific beliefs or moral convictions. Those beliefs are:
- That marriage is or should be recognized as a the union of one man and one woman,
- That sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage, and
- That male and female (or man and woman) refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at birth.
As a religious organization on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, we recognize that our fellow Mississippians have a wide range of religious beliefs and moral convictions. We believe that those religious beliefs deserve appropriate protections.
However, as a health and human services organization of the United Church of Christ, we also love our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender brothers and sisters, and we believe that this legislation provides a license to discriminate against them. It also provides a license to discriminate against unmarried couples, single mothers, and others under the guise of religious beliefs about sexuality. We cannot and will not accept the marginalization of our brothers and sisters, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or family status.
We join Biloxi Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gillich and the many other Mississippians who oppose this legislation in saying that we do not discriminate, period.
Back Bay Mission will always serve the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or family status. We will continue to advocate for housing and employment opportunities for all people. And we will do that because our religious convictions demand it.