The Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative Presents Grant To the Mississippi LGBTQ Fund

The first large grant from SIGBI was given to the Mississippi LGBTQ Fund. Mississippi has long been one one the most difficult places to live for LGBTQ people and with the New law that passed in early October it has officially become the worst State in the country in terms of legal rights for LGBTQ people.

The law, House Bill 1523, was signed by Gov. Phil Bryant last year in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide. The purported intent of the law is to protect individuals who have religious beliefs contrary to the ruling, but the measure approaches that in a way that would allow anti-LGBT discrimination.

The law prohibits the state from taking action against religious organizations that decline employment, housing or services to same-sex couples; families who’ve adopted a foster child and wish to act in opposition to same-sex marriage and individuals who offer wedding services and decline to facilitate a same-sex wedding.

Additionally, the bill allows individuals working in medical services to decline a transgender person’s request for gender reassignment surgery. The bill also allows state government employees who facilitate marriages the option to opt out of issuing licenses to same-sex couples, but the person must issue prior written notice to the state government and a clerk’s office must not delay the issuance of licenses.

Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, spelled out the potential consequences of the law in a statement on the day it went into effect.

“The insidious power of a law like this is that it casts a long shadow over public life, forcing someone to assess whether they will be treated fairly and respectfully in situations from the crisis of an emergency room to an anniversary dinner at a restaurant to a child’s classroom,” Beach-Ferrara said. “Now we face the cruel reality of the law going into effect and the imminent threat it poses to the dignity, health and well-being of LGBT Mississippians.”

The law will likely be challenged and end up in the Supreme court but until then LGBTQ people in Mississippi face the reality that many people in their state see them as second class citizens and that they can easily under the law be discriminated against.

Bob Kelly