Mississippi Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act (HB 1523)

This law was last updated on Oct 6, 2017


State

Mississippi

Number

HB 1523

Status

Blocked/Enjoined

Proposed

Feb 8, 2016

Topics

Anti-Transgender, Conscience and Refusal Clauses, LGBTQ, Religious Freedom

Full Bill Text

billstatus.ls.state.ms.us

HB 1523 would create government protections for “sincerely held” religious beliefs or moral convictions for people, religious organizations, and private associations. The bill would allow public and private businesses to legally refuse service to LGBTQ people based on the owner’s religious belief.

HB 1523 states that the sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions protected by this act are the belief or conviction that:

  • Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman;
  • Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage; and
  • Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.

Protections for Religious Organizations

The bill would prohibit the state government from taking disciplinary action against a religious organization on the basis that the organization:

  • Declines to solemnize a marriage, provide services, facilities, or goods or privileges for the purpose of a marriage ceremony.
  • Makes any employment-related decision based on a “sincerely held” religious belief;
  • Makes any decision concerning the sale, rental, occupancy of, or terms and conditions of occupying a dwelling or other housing under its control, based on a “sincerely held” religious belief.

The bill would prohibit the state government from taking disciplinary action against a religious organization that advertises, provides or facilitates adoption or foster care, wholly or partially on the basis that such organization has provided or declined to provide any adoption or foster care service, or related service, due to their religious belief.

Protections for Individuals

The bill would prohibit the state government from taking disciplinary action against any person who the state grants custody of a foster or adoptive child, or who seeks from the state custody of a foster or adoptive child, wholly or partially on the basis that the person guides, instructs or raises a child, or intends to guide, instruct, or raise a child based upon or in a manner consistent with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.

The bill would prohibit the state government from taking disciplinary action against any person on the basis that the person declines to participate in the provision of treatments, counseling, or surgeries related to sex reassignment or gender identity transitioning or declines to participate in the provision of psychological, counseling, or fertility services based upon a “sincerely held” religious belief or moral conviction.

The bill would prohibit the state government from taking disciplinary action against any person on the basis that the person has provided or declined to provide goods and services relating to marriage-related ceremonies.

The bill would prohibit the state government from taking disciplinary action against any person on the basis that the person establishes sex-specific standards or policies concerning employee or student dress or grooming, or concerning access to restrooms, spas, baths, showers, dressing rooms, locker rooms, or other intimate facilities or settings, based upon or in a manner consistent with a “sincerely held” religious belief or moral conviction.

The bill would prohibit the state government from taking disciplinary action against a state employee on the basis that such employee lawfully speaks or engages in expressive conduct based upon or in a manner consistent with a “sincerely held” religious belief or moral conviction.

The bill would allow any person working on behalf of the state government who has authority to authorize or license marriages to refuse to do so based upon or in a manner consistent with a “sincerely held” religious belief or moral conviction. This person would need to provide prior written notice of their refusal to the State Registrar of Vital Records.

The bill would allow any person working on behalf of the state government who has authority to perform or solemnize marriages to refuse to do so based upon or in a manner consistent with a “sincerely held” religious belief or moral conviction. Any person making such recusal would need to provide prior written notice to the Administrative Office of Courts.

As Rewire reports:

“[H 1523] has drawn opposition from both advocacy and business organizations, such as the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the Mississippi Manufacturers Association (MMA).”

STATUS

Gov. Phil Bryant signed the bill into law on April 5, 2016.

This act will take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2016.

On June 30, 2016, U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves issued an injunction blocking enforcement of the law. On June 22, 2017, the Fifth Circuit lifted the injunction.

The Fifth Circuit of Appeals ruled the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring suit and declined to rehear the case.

The law will now take effect on October 10, 2017.


People

Organizations