A Round Up of the States Concerned with “Sincerely Held Religious Beliefs”

Well. It’s been an active few weeks in terms of rolling back LGBT rights and sanctioning discrimination. North Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee — it seems like every day there’s a new state. If you’re having trouble keeping up, you’re not alone. Here’s the round up of what’s going on across the country.

North Carolina

The fallout from North Carolina’s HB2 continues. Gov. McCrory issued an executive order that largely did nothing. Trans people still cannot use the proper bathroom unless they have changed their birth certificate, and municipalities cannot enact their own anti-discrimination policies or raise the minimum wage.


Shortly after North Carolina passed its law, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed HB 1523 into law, a so-called “religious freedom” law that provides cover for those seeking to discriminate based upon “sincerely held religious beliefs.” The specific sincerely held religious beliefs are actually enumerated in the law as follows:

The sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions protected by this act are the belief or conviction that:

(a)  Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman;

(b)  Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage; and

(c)  Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.

If that sounds like blatant discrimination, it’s because it is. The law “protects” religious organizations, which include houses of worship, and corporations, schools, and associations “regardless of whether it is integrated or affiliated with a church or other house of worship.”


A bill allowing counseling offices to refuse services to LGBT people is sitting at the governor’s desk. The bill allows counseling professionals to refuse service based on the principle of their “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Another bill beginning to make its way through the legislature is SB 2387, which is yet another “bathroom bill.” The bill mandates public schools and universities to require “that a student use student restroom and locker room facilities that are assigned for use by persons of the same sex as the sex indicated on the student’s original birth certificate.”

Tennessee also specifically bans changing a birth certificate as a part of transitioning.


Remember the epic 39-hour filibuster by the Missouri Senate Democrats in opposition to an anti-LGBT bill? Well, after that bill passed the Senate, it has kicked around the House for a month. The bill in question, SJR 39, finally got a hearing the evening of April 12, but did not face a vote. Unlike other so-called religious freedom bills, SJR 39 is a potential constitutional amendment. If passed, it would send the question of protecting those with “sincerely held religious beliefs” from prosecution to the voters, resurrecting the pre-marriage equality days of costly, emotionally and physically exhausting battles arguing about basic human dignity.

The NCAA has threatened not to hold events in Missouri if the bill passes. Michael Sam has also come out against the bill, and numerous corporations have decried it as well.

Did I miss any? Is there something going on in your state that no one is talking about? Comment and let us know about it!

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Katie Barnes (they/them/their) is a pop-culture obsessed activist and writer. While at St. Olaf College studying History and (oddly) Russian (among other things), Katie fell in love with politics, and doing the hard work in the hard places. A retired fanfiction writer, Katie now actually enjoys writing with their name attached. Katie actually loves cornfields, and thinks there is nothing better than a summer night's drive through the Indiana countryside. They love basketball and are a huge fan of the UConn women's team. When not fighting the good fight, you can usually find Katie watching sports, writing, or reading a good book.

Katie Barnes is a pop-culture obsessed activist and writer.

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