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Mississippi's 'religious freedom' law under fire from 75 CEOs

Protesters call for Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant to veto House Bill 1523, which they say allow discrimination against LGBT people, during a rally outside the Governor's Mansion in Jackson, Miss., on April 4. Bryant signed the bill the next day.
Protesters call for Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant to veto House Bill 1523, which they say allow discrimination against LGBT people, during a rally outside the Governor's Mansion in Jackson, Miss., on April 4. Bryant signed the bill the next day. Associated Press

Dozens of big-name CEOs have released an open letter calling on Mississippi's leaders to repeal the "religious freedom" law.

"We are disappointed to see the Legislature and governor’s office pass discriminatory legislation," the letter says. "The business community, by and large, has consistently communicated to lawmakers at every level that such laws are bad for our employees and bad for business. This is not a direction in which states move when they are seeking to provide successful, thriving hubs for business and economic development. We believe that HB 1523 will make it far more challenging for businesses across the state to recruit and retain the nation’s best and brightest workers and attract the most talented students from across the country.

"It will also diminish the state’s draw as a destination for tourism, new businesses, and economic activity.

"Discrimination is wrong, and we believe it has no place in Mississippi or anywhere in our country. As companies that pride ourselves on being inclusive and welcoming to all, we strongly urge you to repeal this bill."

Among the signers are Wes Bush of Northrop Grumman, Chip Bergh of Levi Strauss and Co., Craig Bromley of John Hancock Financial, Bracken B. Darrell of Logitech, Peter T. Grauer of Bloomberg L.P., Lane S. Hopkins of Capital One Financial Corporation, Steve Joyce of Choice Hotels International, Brian Brazanich of Intel, Christopher J. Nassetta of Hilton Worldwide and Brian Tippens of Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

“It is unfathomable that in 2016, Mississippi has passed a law explicitly allowing LGBT people to be denied service or discriminated against simply because of who they are and whom they love," said Human Rights Council President Chad Griffin.“That's why, across Mississippi and the nation, business leaders are speaking out against this discriminatory legislation that harms their employees, harms consumers, and harms their businesses. But there's still time for Mississippi lawmakers to do the right thing. We urge Governor Bryant and state lawmakers to lead their state to a better future, leaving the politics of discrimination and prejudice firmly in the past. It's time for them to listen, stand up for all Mississippians, and work quickly to repeal H.B. 1523.”

HRC also plans a rally and march at 3:30 p.m. Sunday from the State Capitol to the Governor's Mansion in Jackson.

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