Michelle Obama: Mississippi law a swift reversal of progress
© Getty Images

First lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaYouTube confirms it picked kids featured in Harris video Photos of the Week: Congressional Baseball Game, ashen trees and a beach horse The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Gears begin to shift in Congress on stalled Biden agenda MORE called on Mississippi students to vote and stand with the LGBT community in light of a controversial law that allows businesses to deny service to LGBT people on religious grounds.


She called on students at Jackson State University to use voting to continue the fight for civil rights.

“If we fail to exercise our fundamental right to vote, then I guarantee that so much of the progress we’ve fought for will be under threat,” she said, according to a White Hosue release. “Statehouses will continue to roll back voting rights and write discrimination into the law. We see it right here in Mississippi — just two weeks ago — how swiftly progress can hurtle backward, how easy it is to single out a group and marginalize them because of who they are or who they love.” 

Invoking Martin Luther King Jr., Obama told the graduates at the historically black university that fighting discrimination starts with the ballot. 

“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.” 

Earlier this month, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) signed into law a bill that allows businesses to refuse to serve gay and transgender people based on “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.” The law covers beliefs about traditional marriage and gender based on sex at birth.

The law has sparked backlash from LGBT groups, along with a North Carolina law that effectively prevents local governments from passing LGBT anti-discrimination laws and mandates that transgender people use the bathroom corresponding to their biological sex.

President Obama said both states’ laws should be overturned.