First Lady Michelle Obama on Saturday
criticized a Mississippi law that targets the LGBT community.
Speaking at a commencement speech at
Jackson State University in Mississippi, Obama said the law was a
step backwards for civil rights.
“We see it right here in Mississippi
– just two weeks ago – how swiftly progress can hurtle backwards.
How easy it is to single out a small group and marginalize them
because of who they are or who they love,” Obama said.
Mississippi's law, House Bill 1523,
protects opponents of the Supreme Court's June, 2015 finding that gay
and lesbian couples have a constitutional right to marry. The
Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act
also protects the “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral
convictions” of individuals and “private associations” opposed
to transgender people and sexual relations outside of marriage.
Governor Phil Bryant has defended the law as “balancing the scales
of justice to protect” Christians.
“So we've got to stand side by side
with all our neighbors – straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual,
transgender; Muslim, Jew, Christian, Hindu immigrant, Native American
– because the march for civil rights isn't just about African
Americans, it's about all Americans,” she continued. “It's about
making things more just, more equal, more free for all our kids and
grandkids. That's the story you all have the opportunity to write.
That's what this historic university has prepared you to do.”
Barack Obama has also criticized the law and others like it.