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On Friday, the Mississippi House passed the final version of HB 1523, a bill that would allow business owners to discriminate against basically everybody: queer people, anyone who’s had premarital sex, and anyone who doesn’t dress according to their biological sex. No, this is not an April Fool’s Day post. This is the so-called “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act,” and it’s very, very real.

The law ostensibly protects “religious freedom,” specifically three “religious” beliefs:

(a) Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman;

(b) Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage; and

(c) Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.

Yep. Just these three specific “religious beliefs" are protected under this new law. So if someone shows up to work and their boss doesn’t think they’re dressed appropriately for their “individual immutable biological sex” (umm, not a thing), the state can’t protect that worker. Business owners would have the legal right to discriminate against anyone who has partaken in pre-marital or non-marital sex. So, um, everyone. 95% of the American population has had sex out of marriage. Heathens, heathens all!!!

The law would apply not only to business owners but to religious organizations as well. This would pose major problems, as many homeless shelters, day cares and food banks are technically religious organizations. They can now refuse service to anyone who doesn’t fall into the three criteria listed above — anyone who’s not a hetero, cis, abstinence-practicing individual. That’s a huge amount of the population that won’t be able to receive these services anymore, and the state can do nothing about it. Because, you know, that would be “discrimination” against these specific “religious beliefs” that basically tell anyone who’s not 100% traditionally gender-conforming that they’re not allowed to exist.

The Mississippi ACLU outlines some particularly horrific effects of the bill, including:

“-Single mothers can even be turned away by a homeless shelter, food pantry, or day-care program.

-Transgender people can be denied necessary medical care, and LGBT people or single women can be refused counseling or fertility services.

-It lets schools refuse to allow transgender students to dress consistent with their gender identity, or to use the appropriate restroom or other facilities, in conflict with federal law. And it empowers any person to challenge someone else's use of restrooms and demand proof of others' ‘anatomy and genetics at time of birth.’"

It’s now up to Governor Phil Bryant as to whether he’ll sign the bill into law or not. He hasn’t indicated whether he will sign it, but he’s said in the past that he believes marriage is between one man and one woman. "I'm going to look at it like I do every piece of legislation, and as soon as I make that decision, I'll let you know," he told reporters. Terrifying. How do all these horrible laws keep ending up on the desks of conservative white men? And Bryant seems to be pretty, um, ardent about religious beliefs:

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We don't yet know when Bryant will decide about signing the bill. In the meantime, the ACLU started the hashtag #NOHB1523 and have started a petition to Gov. Bryant. Let’s hope he hears the voice of sanity before it’s too late.

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Images via ACLU Mississippi and Twitter/Phil Bryant

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Twitter: @lmyerspoetry

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