Mississippi has recently come under fire for its new "religious freedom" measure, HB 1523. Even as numerous celebrities have cancelled appearances and film productions have pulled out of the state, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant continues to deny that the measure is anything less than straight up descrimination. Even when the voices against it put forth an argument in terms he definitely understands: It's bad for business.
Joining that chorus of voices against the bill are former governors of the "Hospitality State", Haley Barbour, Ronnie Musgrove, and William Winter, who all addressed HB 1523 at a recent Smithsonian "Hometown Team" Sports Exhibit and what it means for Mississippi.
Musgrove, a Democratic, who served from 1996 to 2000 told local news affiliate WAPT:
"The passing of House Bill 1523 will serve as one of the most detrimental pieces of legislation that has been passed in terms of recruiting business in industry to Mississippi. We will never know how many companies just struck Mississippi off of their list for potential locations. That does not bode well for Mississippi's future. Second, we have to give the same rights to all people that federal law and the United States Supreme Court has given."
Winter, another Democrat, who served from 1980 to 1984 said:
"When we start to get very narrow points of view, from a religious standpoint, involved in political issues, then we are getting into trouble. That's what I am afraid we are seeing now. We are mixing religion and politics, and that's not a very good thing to do."
Barbour, a Republican, who served from 2004 to 2012 although far from praising it, did not exactly condemn it either:
"I think Mississippi is a really nice place to live. Regardless of what you might think, I think it's a nice place to live. I can't tell you what people are going to do or what any companies are going to do, but we'll see."
The local chapter of HRC Mississippi has planned a rally to repeal HB 1523. A march from the Capitol Building to the Governor's Mansion will take place on May 1 to protest the bill.