A Huge Leap Back


When it comes to LGBT issues, it seems that with every step forward, we take three steps back. Both North Carolina and Mississippi are in the spotlight recently for moving us backwards..

Let’s tackle Mississippi first. Mississippi enacted a bill that stretches the definition of “religious freedom” to protect people–mainly, Christians who oppose the LGBT community–from having to do anything for a gay person that they feel would go against their moral conviction.

“Under the law, religious organizations will be able to deny LGBT people marriage, adoption and foster care services; fire or refuse to employ them; and decline to rent or sell them property. Medical professionals will be permitted to refuse to participate in treatments, counseling and surgery related to “sex reassignment or gender identity transitioning,” CNN writes.

Phil Bryant, Governor of Mississippi, makes the argument that by enacting this bill, we are ensuring that the government does not interfere in the lives of people who simply want to practice their religion.

So, let me get this straight.

Bryant is arguing that this bill is preventing the government from making decisions for other people. Such as choosing to have gender reassignment surgery or choosing who to marry, or perhaps choosing which cake to buy for your wedding.

Besides being absurd, this bill has a tremendous potential of becoming a slippery slope. Allowing religious people to decide that their religious “freedom” trumps other civil rights is flat out dangerous. Catholic pharmacies could refuse to dispense birth control, Catholic corporations could fire someone based on their sexual orientation, and people like Kim Davis can legally refuse to give out marriage licenses.

It is shocking how the government can allow people to openly discriminate against a community using their religion as a shield.  

If Bryant freely allows his constituents to discriminate against a group of people, it will quickly spiral to something America hasn’t faced since the 1950’s.

We’re not the only ones who have seen the horrors of what this bill could bring. Major corporations that do business in Mississippi have denounced the legislation and are stating their opposition to it. Included in these corporations are MGM Resorts International, Nissan, Toyota, Tyson Foods, AT&T, IBM and Levi Strauss & Co.

Many CEOs and companies have taken a stand against the ludicrous bill. “The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture,” Dan Schulman, PayPal president and CEO said.  

North Carolina is no better. The North Carolina anti-LGBT bill “prevents local municipalities from passing anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. The bill also requires transgender people to use public restrooms that correspond to the gender on their birth certificate.” says The Huffington Post. However, their discriminatory laws have caused a serious backlash.

According to CNN, the Justice Department ruled that “a state law blocking legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, particularly bathroom access for transgender individuals, violates civil rights law.” The Justice Department is now suing North Carolina for their violation of the civil rights law.

In addition to the Justice Department noticing the horrendous bills North Carolina is attempting to enact, the New York Times says that PayPal announced that they were cancelling a $3.6 million investment because “becoming an employer in North Carolina, where members of our teams will not have equal rights under the law, is simply untenable.”

This issue hits close to home because the vast majority of Pres girls, at the very least, support the LGBT community and strive to make equality a norm in society instead of a gift. If North Carolina or Mississippi continue to be allowed to pass laws that make discrimination the norm, people will slowly unravel the hundreds of years of work that went into eradicating inequality.