This morning, Mississippi governor Phil Bryant signed House Bill 1523 into law that is slated to go into effect July 1, 2016.
The bill, titled as “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act,” is intended to protect individuals with certain religious beliefs or moral convictions and allows them to provide or deny goods and services based on three specifically stated views: marriage is recognized as an union of one man and one woman, sexual relations are reserved to marriage and that gender is decided by anatomy at birth.
This legislative action elicited a statewide and national response, and the University of Mississippi’s Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter is among the many taking a stance on the bill. Today, he sent out a letter:
Dear members of the UM community,
Some of you have inquired about how recent legislation will affect our campus operations and ethos. I am writing to reaffirm that the mission and values of the University of Mississippi have not changed. Our primary purpose is to be an academic institution that creates, evaluates, shares, and applies knowledge in a free, open, and inclusive environment of intellectual inquiry.
Our main campus in Oxford, our four regional campuses, and our academic health center provide academic, research, and professional programs and health care to tens of thousands of people. The members of the university and those we serve are part of a diverse community of different religions, ages, political perspectives, physical abilities, races, sexual orientations, gender expressions, nationalities, cultures, fields of study, and other characteristics.
Diversity is a hallmark of education and enriches the environment and experiences of all our campus constituents. We will always support all members of our community and uphold the UM Creed, which calls on us to respect the dignity of each person.
Jeffrey S. Vitter
The House Bill in its entirety may be read at this link: http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/2016/pdf/history/HB/HB1523.xml
Callie Daniels Bryant is the senior managing editor at HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.