The University of Southern Mississippi had to cancel three upcoming games after their opponents, New York’s Stony Brook University, decided pull out of the series citing Mississippi’s purportedly “anti-LGBT” laws.
In 2016, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned unnecessary travel to states which have laws the state deems restrictive of LGBT rights. Cuomo, who has dived head first into liberal waters to test a bid for president in 2020, sees Mississippi’s Religious Freedom Law as an attack on gay rights. Therefore, Stony Brook, which receives state funding, has decided not to risk that money by fulfilling its obligation to play baseball in the Magnolia State.
“I just hate losing the three home games,” Golden Eagles head coach Scott Berry told the Sun Herald. “I’m sure it’s going to cost us for sure. That’s three gates and everything that goes into a game day in terms of revenue.”
House Bill 1523, Mississippi’s Religious Freedom Law, was signed into law in April of last year and went into effect last October. The law is currently set to be heard on appeal in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Mississippi state attorneys argued in favor of the law that allows religious business owners to deny serving gays and lesbians based on religious ideals.
In their brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, Mississippi attorneys wrote:
Until recently, there was no need for the law to protect the conscientious scruples of those who oppose same-sex marriage. That is because it was unthinkable — until recently — that government officials might coerce private citizens into participating in same-sex marriage ceremonies, or penalize them for their refusal to do so. But state and local governments have been taking action against Christians who decline to participate in these ceremonies on account of their religious beliefs
In place of the Feb. 23-25 home games, Southern Mississippi will play in a tournament at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.