Support for MS Equality as “Religious Freedom Restoration Act" Takes Effect

by HRC Staff

Washington- There is strong support for equality in Mississippi despite the state’s "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" taking effect today. Since January, eight cities have passed equality resolutions recognizing the dignity and worth of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

“This is proof that the people of Mississippi are further ahead than their leaders at the state capital,” said Brad Clark, director of HRC’s Project One America. “City leaders from the Gulf Coast to Mississippi's Delta have taken a principled stand in favor of equality and inclusion.”

Starkville passed the first measure on January 21st and since then eight other cities have joined in treating LGBT people with dignity and respect. The majority of the resolutions passed with unanimous bipartisan support reaching diverse populations—including the capital city of Jackson.

Though the resolutions are non-binding and do not offer non-discrimination protections, passage sends a strong message of inclusion-- unlike the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act" passed by state legislators in April. HRC strongly believes the law is bad for business, bad for the state’s reputation, and most of all--bad for Mississippians.

“The 'Religious Freedom Restoration Act' places LGBT people at risk by emboldening individuals who would use religion to justify discrimination,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “The law lacks clear provisions preserving the integrity of non-discrimination protections at the local level or possible future state-wide protections.”

To help change hearts and minds, advance enduring legal protections and build more inclusive institutions for LGBT people in Mississippi, HRC has launched Project One America. A report by Public Religion Research Institute shows when Americans know someone gay or lesbian, they are more likely to favor LGBT protections. This summer, HRC will open an office in Jackson and employ dedicated staff to expand equality.

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