Metro Weekly

Travel ban over Mississippi’s anti-LGBTQ law disrupts college baseball schedule

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive order prohibits all "non-essential" travel to Mississippi

Photo: LSUConnMan, via Wikimedia.

A Mississippi law that allows government officials and businesses to refuse service to LGBTQ individuals will force two college baseball teams to miss at least three games this upcoming season.

The law allows discrimination as long as the business or official is motivated by predetermined anti-gay religious beliefs.

The University of Southern Mississippi was scheduled to play Stony Brook University, a public university on Long Island, in a series in Hattiesburg on Feb. 23-25. But it turns out Stony Brook will be unable to travel due to an executive order issued by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, reports the Hattiesburg American.

Cuomo issued the order, which bans all “non-essential” state-funded travel to Mississippi, after the state’s governor, Phil Bryant, signed the anti-LGBTQ bill into law on April 5, 2016. Because baseball is not considered an “essential” function, such as a state of emergency, Stony Brook will not be allowed to travel to Mississippi until the law is repealed or overturned in the courts.

To make up for the missed games in February, the University of Southern Mississippi will play in a tournament at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas.

HB 1523 has long been a point of contention between religious conservatives and the LGBTQ community in Mississippi. Shortly after Bryant signed the bill into law, LGBTQ advocates sued, alleging that the law — which had yet to go into effect, was unconstitutional because it violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

A federal judge temporarily blocked the law from going into effect until the courts could resolve the case. But the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the injunction, finding that the law should be allowed to go into effect before it can be challenged. LGBTQ advocates have subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court asking them to reinstate the injunction.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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