The officers and Board of the Southern Regional Chapter of the American Studies Association (SASA) join our colleagues, friends, and fellow activists in condemning the pernicious legislation enacted in Mississippi that allows religion to be used to discriminate against the LGBT community and deny access to the basic rights that many Americans enjoy.
Mississippi’s House Bill 1523, “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act,” guarantees that the state government will not punish people for refusing, because of their religious beliefs, to provide services to members of the LGBTQ community. Unfortunately, this law is not atypical. Many states currently are debating similar bills. Despite several landmark actions on the federal level, there is a long history of discrimination against the LGBTQ community that persists today.
We support the promotion and extension of equal rights and urge members to actively protest these discriminatory laws. SASA hopes to use our expertise and resources to create venues for constructive conversation and engagement and to collaborate with other individuals and organizations with similar goals. We also hope that such actions will lead to the end of hate-motivated violence and other forms of discrimination that negatively impact the LGBTQ community.
Finally, we commend all individuals who have already taken a stand against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, especially those who live and work in Mississippi and are directly affected by the legislation. We call on our fellow American Studies colleagues to engage in public discussions as we grapple with discrimination in all forms. Mississippi’s LGBTQ communities and their supporters need to be assured that they are not alone.