Washington — Lance Bass is joining the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, in speaking out against Mississippi’s SB 2681, a bill that would essentially give businesses license to discriminate against LGBT customers. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a similar bill in her state last night following backlash from national Republican lawmakers and some of the nation’s leading businesses. Reports indicate that a Mississippi House subcommittee may have stripped the bill of the discriminatory language last night, though text of an amended bill is not yet publicly available.
In an email to HRC members and supporters, Bass – a Mississippi native – writes: “This bill doesn't represent the Mississippi I knew growing up. It doesn't represent the folks I went to church with every Sunday with my parents and my sister. And it certainly doesn't reflect the Golden Rule I learned about sitting in those pews – a simple moral code that says we should treat others the way we would want to be treated ourselves.”
The discriminatory legislation is out-of-step with the values of a majority of Mississippians – 64 percent of whom support workplace protections for LGBT people. This type of legislation also goes against the values of mainstream Americans, who overwhelmingly believe businesses shouldn’t be able to deny services to someone simply because they’re gay or lesbian:
According to a poll by Third Way and the Human Rights Campaign, 69 percent of Americans don’t think a business owner should be allowed to refuse to provide products or services to an individual because that person is gay or lesbian, compared to an incredibly small 15 percent that do. And when asked about small business owners in particular, a full 68 percent of Americans don’t think they should be able to refuse service to gays or lesbians, regardless of their religious beliefs. This supermajority included 55 percent of Republicans, 75 percent of Independents, 67 percent of people without college degrees, and 68 percent of Christians.
When asked specifically about wedding-related services, like catering, flowers, or cakes, being provided by small businesses, 64 percent of voters were still opposed to new laws that would allow small businesses to deny wedding-related services based on their religious beliefs, compared to 31 percent in favor.
In addition to Bass, the Mississippi State Chamber of Commerce also spoke out against the measure, saying: “As the State Chamber of Commerce for a state that has proven its hospitable and business-friendly approach, MEC opposes efforts that would intentionally or unintentionally prevent Mississippi businesses from implementing and enforcing non-discrimination policies impacting their customers and employees.”
Bass’ email to HRC members and supporters is available here.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.