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Mississippi Legislature Votes For Anti-LGBTQ+ Law

Friday, the Mississippi legislature voted to pass a law that, according to BuzzFeed News, is being called “the most sweeping anti-LGBT legislation in the United States.” The bill was passed on the basis of protecting religious freedoms for Mississippians, that is, potentially allowing religious people to refuse “services, goods…medical treatment, housing, and employment” to LGBTQ+ individuals. Democrats have delayed the bill’s final vote until Monday, hoping to stop it before it goes to the governor.

The bill is titled the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience From Government Discrimination Act,” and its supporters say that it preserves the civil liberties and dignity of those individuals “who cannot in good conscience” offer goods and services to queer folks. This legislation is similar to laws that were passed in North Carolina last week.

While supporters argue that the bill is for the sake of religious people and organizations and has mostly to do with same-sex marriage, the bill itself has a portion on gender identity that reads gender is “objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at birth,” invalidating trans people and their identities.

In addition to allowing private businesses and citizens to deny goods and services to LGBTQ+ people, the bill also “prohibits the government from ‘discriminating’ against” those who choose to do so. The effective immunity given to religious Mississippians here is shocking. When conservative religious people are cast as the victims, it seems likely that even more harmful acts against LGBTQ+ folks will be perpetrated without any consequences.

To suggest that you’re allowed to infringe upon others’ freedoms in the name of religious freedom doesn’t really make sense—It follows the same line of logic that kept segregation legal for much of the 20th century. Much like freedom of speech, religious freedoms can’t extend to the point where they hurt other people.

As stated by the ACLU of Mississippi, “[religious] freedom does not give any of us the right to harm or mistreat others.”

Margeaux Biché

Columbia Barnard

Margeaux Biché is a current senior at Barnard College living in New York City. During her freshman year, she studied at the George Washington University in D.C., where she wrote for The GW Hatchet. She is a Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies major and is passionate about social justice. While she does not know exactly where she'll take her degree, she hopes she can contribute to the advancement of marginalized peoples through legal and/or activist work. Chocolate covered pretzels are her favorite food, Rihanna is her favorite musician and her go-to talent is her ability to wiggle her ears. Margeaux loves dogs, hiking and her hometown basketball team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, all of which are oft-featured on her Instagram account. Twitter | LinkedIn
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