As North Carolina continues to face a boycott over its recent transgender bathroom law, Mississippi has problems of its own. Governor Phil Bryant recently signed House Bill 1523, a.k.a. the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, allowing religious groups, private businesses, and even government employees to deny service to citizens based on religious beliefs. There are three specific beliefs protected under the law: that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, that no sex should take place outside of marriage, and that gender is assigned at birth. These provisions specifically target LGBTQ populations, and have not sat well with all Mississippians. The law is set to take effect July 1, but on Monday a cadre of well-known Mississippi authors signed an open letter protesting against what they see as discrimination.
“It is deeply disturbing to so many of us to see the rhetoric of hate, thinly veiled, once more poison our political discourse,” the letter reads, which is signed by 95 authors including John Grisham and Donna Tartt, ESPN’s Wright Thompson, and Kathryn Stockett (The Help), among others. “But Governor Phil Bryant and the Mississippi legislators who voted for this bill are not the sole voices of our state. There have always been people here battling injustice. That’s the version of Mississippi we believe in, and that’s the Mississippi we won’t stop fighting for.”
The letter is reprinted verbatim below, via the Jackson Free Press, along with the full list of names.