For Immediate Release

Civil and Human Rights Coalition Urges Veto of Mississippi Religious Discrimination Bill

WASHINGTON - Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement in advance of Mississippi’s anticipated passage of HB 1523, a bill that would allow discrimination against LGBT people on religious grounds. This week, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed similar religious refusal bills. The Leadership Conference Education Fund recently issued a report called “Striking A Balance: Advancing Civil and Human Rights While Preserving Religious Liberty” that documents how religious arguments are used to deny civil and human rights to people of color, women, people with disabilities, immigrants, and LGBT people:

“Governor Bryant should reconsider his position and veto HB 1523, a bill that would create a religious-based license to discriminate against the LGBT community in Mississippi. Religious liberty is meant to be a sacred shield to protect people from discrimination, not a sword to deny civil rights and equality to others.

Mississippi has been down this road before.

Ross Barnett, a former Mississippi governor, once used religion to justify Jim Crow laws by calling God ‘the original segregationist.’  Religious arguments have also been used in our nation to oppose women’s suffrage, interracial marriage, the acceptance of Asian immigrants, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the abolition of slavery.

Bryant should learn the lessons of his fellow southern governors. This week, Virginia and Georgia’s governors vetoed similar legislation and were praised throughout their states and the nation, while North Carolina’s governor signed an anti-LGBT bill that made his state a national embarrassment. 

Bryant’s choice is clear: Either follow the path of progress or turn back the clock to the time of Ross Barnett. The civil rights community strongly urges him to veto HB 1523.”


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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. Through advocacy and outreach to targeted constituencies, The Leadership Conference works toward the goal of a more open and just society – an America as good as its ideals.

The Leadership Conference is a 501(c)(4) organization that engages in legislative advocacy.  It was founded in 1950 and has coordinated national lobbying efforts on behalf of every major civil rights law since 1957.

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