Mississippi lawmakers must have been hermetically sealed from the outside world not to have taken note of North Carolina's epic debacle, but they are now experiencing their very own self-inflicted crisis firsthand.
A cohort of the state's major businesses—including General Electric, PepsiCo, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Levi Strauss & Co., and Whole Foods—signed on to a letter urging repeal of the state’s new anti-LGBTQ law, HB 1523.
“We are disappointed to see the legislature and governor’s office pass discriminatory legislation. The business community, by and large, has consistently communicated to lawmakers at every level that such laws are bad for our employees and bad for business. This is not a direction in which states move when they are seeking to provide successful, thriving hubs for business and economic development.”
Mississippi’s “license to discriminate” law allows businesses, individuals, and religious organizations to deny a host of services to LGBTQ individuals, among other people, based on religious grounds.
Mississippi's law would, for example, allow a church group to decline housing or adoption services to gay couples. Private businesses could refuse marriage-related services such as room rentals, cakes, photography or flowers. Any employer or school could refuse to allow a transgender person to use the bathroom of their choice.
In addition to private sector blowback, governors of New York, Vermont, and Washington have all banned employee travel to Mississippi, as have some mayors, such as Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.
"Seattle will continue to speak out against injustice and stand with those fighting for equality," said Murray. "This debate is settled in America and yet we continue to see states roll back civil-rights protections for LGBT people. We must not allow discrimination to divide our people."