Jackson, MS –Once again, legislators are modernizing the Jim Crow Era with the passage of HB 1523 – the Religious Liberty Accommodations Act. This bill will provide protections for those who refuse to service and mistreat customers in public spaces on the basis of religion. It will allow virtually anyone, including religious organizations, employers, businesses, foster care/adoption agencies, housing institutions, healthcare organizations, clergy, even governmental officials, to discriminate against other people in the name of religious liberty. Basically, a realtor can refuse to sell a house to a legally married couple and can claim that the discriminatory behavior was allowed by some religious belief or a doctor can refuse to medically treat a member of the LGBT community. The ACLU of Mississippi vehemently opposes this legislation because it allows religion to be used for blatant discrimination. Instead of protecting religious freedom, this bill uses freedom of religion to cover prejudice and to justify discrimination.

Just as Mississippi clergy leaders did when the state passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 2014, the ACLU of Mississippi calls on lawmakers “to abandon legislation that threatens democracy, civil rights and religious freedom itself. When we seek to codify legislation that discriminates against any class of people—no matter our diverse theological beliefs about marriage—we tarnish the treasure of religious freedom and the highest ideals of our democracy.”