Mississippi lawmakers will introduce a bill today to block the anti-LGBT bill recently signed into law by Gov. Phil Bryant.
The Mississippi Economic and Tourism Recovery Act would prevent individividuals and businesses from discriminating againt LGBT people on the basis of religious beliefs, freshman Democratic Rep. Jay Hughes wrote on Facebook Monday. It would also block many of the discriminatory provisions in House Bill 1523 from taking effect.
Passed this month and set to take effect on July 1, HB 1523 allows businesses, individuals, and religiously affiliated organizations to deny service to LGBT people, single mothers and others who somehow offend an individual's "sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction." It also directly targets transgender residents, effectively claiming that one's sex assigned at birth is immutable, and will be the only gender recognized by the state.
The deadline for new bills to be introduced has passed. But in Monday's Facebook post, Hughes explained the steps legislators would need to take to pass the Mississippi Economic and Tourism Recovery Act:
"A 'Suspension Resolution' will have to be filed in the House. Then, the Speaker will have to allow it to come up for a vote on the floor. It would then take 2/3 of all House members to vote to suspend the rules, and allow a bill to repeal 1523 to be introduced and voted upon. From there, it would go to the other chamber, where the Lt. Gov would have to allow a vote. Assuming all pass, it would go to the Gov."
The possibility that legislators will suspend the rules to introduce this new bill is slim, according to The Clarion-Ledger, since HB 1523 passed with a margin of 69-44 in the House and 32-17 in the Senate.
"Nothing can happen if we do not take the first step," wrote Hughes on Facebook. "Mississippi has been here before -- we must give reasonable minds and the principles of democracy an opportunity to be heard. Repeal HB1523. All Mississippians are equal."
In a press release, Hughes stated:
"This resolution is in direct response to the local and national negative consequences on Mississippi, its economic development, tourism industry, and perception of the good people of Mississippi. This suspension resolution is the required first step in a process to allow the repeal HB1523, and all of its discriminatory consequences."
The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi's equality advocate, Todd Allen, said of the bill legislators hope to introduce today, "Right now the ACLU in cooperation with the Southern Poverty Law Center and other organizations is examining all options to litigate against this discriminatory law. We clearly see this as discrimination against LGBT people in Mississippi or against anyone who may be traveling through."
Allen added that the state doesn't have civil rights protections for any class of people -- a matter the ACLU has long tried to remedy.