NAACP Press Statement: HB 1523 Found Unconstitutional
2016/07/01 – The Mississippi State Conference NAACP applauds the ruling issued by U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves on the true nature of H.B. 1523, deceptively named “Religious Freedom” law, as unconstitutional. H.B. 1523 was an attempt to legitimize discrimination and superimpose the rights and beliefs of some citizens over the rights and beliefs of others. “That is not how our society, how our state, or how our Constitution works,” stated President of the MS State Conference NAACP Derrick Johnson.
The court’s decision exposes the weak justifications and insidious purposes of the law. The law, by its own language and intent, sought to force a whole class of Mississippians into a second-class citizenship. Though plainly targeting the LGBT community in an attempt to win-back perceived lost ground, H.B. 1523’s sweeping language of discrimination also attacked single parents and any sexually active, unmarried adult making any of these citizens punishment-free targets for discrimination.
“The opinion and order issued by Judge Reeves rightfully condemns the State’s attempt to legislate hate and discrimination,” stated Johnson. Just as a person’s “sincerely held religious beliefs” were not found to be an adequate justification for past legislative discriminatory acts regarding race or gender, the “Religious Freedom” law and its purported reasons are also insufficient and ring hollow under any scrutiny.“There will always be someone who feels differently, thinks differently, believes differently than you,” Johnson said. “When that happens, it is not the state of Mississippi’s job or place to take sides. That’s what H.B. 1523 called for. It was a law designed to tell some Mississippians that my beliefs are worth more than your rights.”