On the ballot on November 7, 2023 are candidates for governor of Mississippi, as are all executive offices in the state, and all 52 seats of the Mississippi State Senate, all 122 seats in the Mississippi House of Representatives, and many local offices. In a race drawing national attention, Republican incumbent Gov. Tate Reeves (pictured above, left) is seeking re-election to a second and final term in office, while Democratic challenger Brandon Presley (above, right), currently a member of the Mississippi Public Service Commission from the Northern district, is looking to unseat him.
The results of the 2023 elections in Mississippi will have profound implications for LGBTQ people in the state. Approximately 99,000 LGBTQ people live in Mississippi, and 34% of LGBTQ people in Mississippi are raising children. Mississippi has no statewide nondiscrimination protections in employment, housing, public accommodations, family services, or credit. In addition to the healthcare ban, Mississippi bans cities, counties, schools, and school districts from passing nondiscrimination laws or policies, and bans transgender people from using bathrooms or facilities consistent with their gender identity.
The LGBTQ and equality records of Mississippi’s gubernatorial candidates include:
Tate Reeves (R, incumbent)
—Signed into law the baselessly-named “Regulate Experimental Adolescent Procedures (REAP) Act” which prohibits minors from accessing transgender health care and bans any public funding from institutions that provide such care to minors. Transgender health care is not “experimental,” and every major medical association supports health care for transgender people and youth. After he signed the bill, Reeves invited Matt Walsh, an anti-LGBTQ commentator to speak. Walsh reiterated multiple lies about the nature of transgender healthcare, and called it “butchery.”
—Baselessly tweeted, “Sterilizing and castrating children in the name of new gender ideology is wrong.” Those inflammatory statements do not describe transgender health care for youth.
—Signed the so-called “Mississippi Fairness Act” into law, requiring the state’s schools to designate teams by sex assigned at birth and prohibiting transgender student athletes from participating in school sports in alignment with their gender identity. In a tweet, Reeves misgendered transgender girls and wrote, without basis, that the law would, “protect young girls from being forced to compete with biological males for athletic opportunities.” According to the bill, any athlete whose sex is “disputed” will have to provide a signed statement from a physician attesting to their genitalia, DNA, and hormone levels. According to the Associated Press, no senator even asked during the debate on the bill if there are transgender girls or women competing in high school or college sports in the state.
—As Lieutenant Governor, wrote a statement in favor of a religious exemption law allowing businesses to discriminate against same-sex couples, stating the law was needed following the U.S. Supreme Court Obergefell ruling legalizing marriage equality nationwide. The bill codified discrimination to deny marriage licenses, housing, essential services, and needed care to LGBTQ Mississippians.
Brandon Presley (D)
—Said, in response to misstatements from gubernatorial opponent Tate Reeves regarding health care for transgender youth, “I trust families—I trust mamas, and I trust daddies to deal with the health care of their children first and foremost, period… I’ll leave parents to control the health care of their children, period.”
—Said if he were elected this year, he would not work to reverse state laws placing restrictions on transgender Mississippians.
GLAAD urges reporters and voters in Mississippi to look closely at the equality records of Mississippi’s candidates, Gov. Tate Reeves and Brandon Presley, and ask how their policies and statements will make Mississippi’s LGBTQ citizens safer and more secure, protect their right to not be discriminated against, and promote the liberty of all Mississippians.
Mississippi does not permit early voting. Election day is November 7.