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Bill to protect women’s spaces moves...

Bill to protect women’s spaces moves forward in Mississippi

By: Frank Corder - April 10, 2024

  • The SAFER Act seeks to define sex-based terms by biological sex while providing protections for women’s spaces such as bathrooms and locker rooms.

Mississippi Republican lawmakers continue to seek protections for women in the most vulnerable of spaces by advancing the SAFER Act, authored by State Senator Josh Harkins.

SB 2753 passed the Senate by a vote of 40-12 in mid-March.

The legislation was then amended in the House, passing on the floor by a vote of 80-31 on Wednesday after a robust challenge from Democrats opposing the bill, claiming it was nothing more than playing politics.

One Democratic lawmaker, State Rep. Zakiya Summers, said the bill would cause transgender people and their supporters not to move to the state while another Democrat, State Rep. Jeffrey Harness, warned of lawsuits should the bill become law.

The SAFER Act seeks to define sex-based terms such as woman, female, man, and male on biological sex instead of following trends in blue states that are using gender identify, or how a male or female view themselves, as the defining factor.

The SAFER Act also aims to protect women’s safe spaces, such as in bathrooms, locker rooms, and changing rooms.

The legislation builds on the Mississippi Fairness Act, passed into law in 2021, which prevents males from competing in girls and women sports. Language that would have protected single-sex spaces was not in the final version of that bill, meaning for those seeking to protect those spaces for women additional legislation is needed. 

Opponents of the legislation claim it’s an anti-transgender bill targeting an extreme minority. Yet, supporters point to recent polling of registered voters in Mississippi from the Independent Women’s Voice that shows 95% of respondents believe it is important that Mississippi law protect private spaces for women.

According to a 2022 report from UCLA’s Williams Institute, state-level estimates of person who identify as transgender in Mississippi is 9,600 over 18 years old and another 2,400 between the ages of 13 and 17.

The legislation now heads back to the Senate where lawmakers could concur and send it on to the Governor for his signature, invite conference to work out any differences, or let it die. Given the overwhelming support for the bill from the supermajority Republican chamber, the bill has a good chance of finding its way to Governor Tate Reeves’ desk.

Senator Harkins told Magnolia Tribune that he is glad to see that the Senate and the House of Representatives have now demonstrated that they support legislation defining sex according to biology and protecting safe public spaces for women and girls.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues to get the SAFER Act on Governor Reeve’s desk to be signed into law,” Harkins said.

About the Author(s)
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Frank Corder

Frank Corder is a native of Pascagoula. For nearly two decades, he has reported and offered analysis on government, public policy, business and matters of faith. Frank’s interviews, articles, and columns have been shared throughout Mississippi as well as in national publications. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, providing insight and commentary on the inner workings of the Magnolia State. Frank has served his community in both elected and appointed public office, hosted his own local radio and television programs, and managed private businesses all while being an engaged husband and father. Email Frank:
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