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Mississippi Restaurant Owners Worry New Anti-LGBTQ Law Will Hurt Business

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The law allows business owners to turn customers away based on "moral convictions"

Jimmy Emerson/Flickr

This week the state of Mississippi passed incredibly regressive legislature that will allow businesses to refuse service to LGBTQ people. According to the ACLU, the new law will not only let business owners turn people away based on their "moral convictions," but will also make it possible for people to be fired or denied housing based on their religious beliefs, among other travesties.

Mississippi restaurants, clearly concerned about how this new law — which is being called the strongest pro-discrimination law in the U.S. — will affect their businesses, are taking a proactive stance by announcing a campaign the state's tourism board is calling "Everyone's Welcome Here." As a press release explains, the Missisippi Hospitality & Restaurant Association will distribute door decals bearing the slogan to participating restaurants that want to assert they won't be taking advantage of the newly legalized right to discriminate against potential customers; they'll also list participating restaurants in an online directory.

The MHRA stops short of making any sort of major statement in opposition to the new law, focusing on how it will affect business rather than what a crushing blow it will deal to equality and progress: Executive director Mike Cashion says in a statement, "When HB 1523 was signed, Mississippi was thrust into the national spotlight. Regardless of its intent, this legislation has created a level of controversy and public perception that affects the image of our state and the hospitality community. And while we may not be able to manage the image and brand of the entire state, we can affect the image of our restaurants, hotels and other hospitality businesses."

Similar legislation was also recently passed in South Carolina. The Mississippi law is slated to go into effect July 1.