Asshole of the Week: Mississippi State Legislature Bans Premarital Sex & Gay Marriage (Yes, the year is 2016.)


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On Friday, February 19, 2016, the Mississippi House of Representatives voted 80-39 to pass House Bill 1523, a.k.a “Protecting Freedom of Conscience From Government Discrimination Act”, which was originally called “Religious Liberty Accommodations Act”. That’s a long way of saying, “We hate most of you”.

This bill declares several official positions for the State of Mississippi, all of which are illegal. Not surprisingly, the bill was authored by MS Speaker of the House, Philip Gunn, who was crowned Asshole of the Week previously for his disparaging comments about Democrats and “girl” legislators.

First, the opening paragraph of HB1523 lists the nauseating purpose of this bill, which includes the purpose “to designate certain religious beliefs or moral convictions that are protected”. The Republican state lawmakers must have missed that day in United States’ Constitution 101 when the First Amendment was covered. Even if they want to launch into the rallying cry of state sovereignty, no state can legislate beliefs — you get to believe in your head and heart whatever you want. The laws that are in place, such as the First Amendment, are designed to help prevent someone else from violating your right to practice your religious beliefs, i.e., go to church, dance naked in the woods, chant incantations over a plate of spaghetti, etc.

Second, HB1523 exists to “provide certain protections regarding a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction for persons, religious organizations and private associations.” This means the State of Mississippi is now in the business of helping churches, any non-profit group, or any for-profit private business discriminate against a person for the simple reason that the bigot’s religious beliefs come before the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the philosophy of the Separation of Church and State.

If you think this is ridiculous, you are correct. And it gets worse.

Section 2. (a), reads, “Leading legal scholars concur that conflicts between same-sex marriage and religious liberty are real and should be addressed through legislation.” Unless the State of Mississippi is now getting its marriage legal scholars from Iran or Saudi Arabia, that is a boldface lie. This alone is proof that the Republicans will fabricate any untruth necessary to project their own narrow-minded, Puritanical religious beliefs. And lucky for them, HB1523 conveniently bans discriminating against people who discriminate based on their religious beliefs, even if that bigot is a bakery who doesn’t want to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, or a government employee who doesn’t want to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, or if an entire government office closes to avoid issuing marriage licenses to LGBT couples. This kind of discrimination was made legal in 2014 with the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but HB1523 now protects bigots from legal action from the government.

Section 2. (i), proclaims, “[I]t is possible for the government to recognize same-sex marriage without forcing persons with sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions to conform,” nevermind that the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, requiring that same-sex couples have the same rights of union as everyone else. Section 4 of HB1523 further explains that when a church denies a gay couple the right to get married in that church, “the state government shall not take any discriminatory action against a religious organization”.

What does this mean? Quite simply: You can break the law and get away with it, too.

But wait! There’s more.

Section 3 is my favorite part, mainly for the new legislation that is one, big human rights’ and civil rights’ violation punchline.

SECTION 3. The sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions protected by this act are the belief or conviction that:
(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.

By targeting gay men, lesbians, trans, and intersex persons, as well as anyone who engages in sex outside of male/female marriage, the State of Mississippi has, in one fell swoop, outlawed gay-marriage, outlawed all premarital sex, outlawed extramarital sex, and rendered an entire swath of the population as nonexistent. The premarital sex ban is the most ironic, considering Mississippi schools often teach abstinence-only sex education and Mississippi has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the country.

But… but…. Jesus!

Jesus has nothing to do with any of this.

Not only are these political bigots bringing their personal religious biases into the legislative ring, they are doing this on our dime. The taxpayers are paying for these right-wing politicians to write and pass laws that violate the Constitution at every turn, but these same politicians block legislation to fully fund education in Mississippi and refuse to legalize marijuana as an industry, which would significantly boost the state’s dreadful economy.

Every time we allow these bills to become law, we are giving the good ol’ boy Republican establishment permission to further violate our civil and human rights — the same way a toddler will push every boundary possible until a parent finally says, “NO,” and actually means it. Passing the Religious Restoration bill in 2014 paved the way for this HB1523 atrocity in 2016. The only way to undo the damage is to vote out these GOP/Tea Party lackeys once and for all, and/or file a lawsuit and take it all the way to the Supreme Court, so the highest law of the land can say, “We’ve already addressed ALL OF THIS. And what you’re doing is ILLEGAL, Mississippi.”

So, what are we going to do about Mississippi and other states who routinely violate our protected civil and human rights? We need to say, “NO!”, and actually mean it. And we say “NO!” through activism and voting.

Therefore, my dear Democrats and Independents, not voting because of apathy is no longer an option.

It’s 2016. VOTE. THEM. OUT.

trish

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2 responses to “Asshole of the Week: Mississippi State Legislature Bans Premarital Sex & Gay Marriage (Yes, the year is 2016.)

  1. Why am I not surprised. With all these other southern states working on passing similar bills,you’re right, people need to vote Republicans out. I’m glad I live in Canada. While we have our problems, they’re not as bad as the US. I hope the governor doesn’t sign this I to law.

    Like

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