College baseball is affected by
Mississippi's controversial “religious freedom” law, which was
signed by Republican Governor Phil Bryant in 2016.
Mississippi's Protecting Freedom of
Conscience from Government Discrimination Act (HB 1523) allows
government workers and businesses to refuse services to LGBT people
based on their “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral
convictions.” It also provides similar protections to individuals
who object to transgender rights. It took affected on October 10,
2017 after being blocked by courts for more than a year. It remains
on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Several states, including New York,
responded to Bryant's signing of the law by prohibiting all
non-essential state travel to Mississippi.
According to the
AP, the University of Southern Mississippi was scheduled to play
three games against Stony Brook University in Hattiesburg in
February. The games were canceled because of New York's travel ban.
Southern Mississippi will instead play
in a tournament at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches,
HB 1523 is considered the broadest
religious objections law enacted since Obergefell, the 2015
Supreme Court case that found that gay and lesbian couples have a
constitutional right to marry.
Bryant has defended the law as