Mississippi Gov. Signs Sweeping ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill Into Law

As of this morning, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed a sweeping “anti-gay” bill into law, which would allow religious charities and private businesses to deny service to gay individuals and couples.

The Mississippi “religious freedom” bill has been called the most restrictive compared to proposed laws in other states, and as of today, it is the law in Mississippi that private businesses may legally discriminate against individuals who live lifestyles that are contrary to owners’ religious beliefs. The bill met with widespread opposition in Mississippi from the ACLU and local activists, but supporters maintain that the bill’s only intention is to safeguard religious liberty.

Critics say the Mississippi religious freedom law allows legal discrimination against gay and transgender individuals and couples, who will now be excluded from certain businesses and religious charities. The Mississippi religious freedom bill has been called, by some who oppose the measure, a new version of the infamous Jim Crow laws that allowed legal discrimination against African Americans but have long since been repealed or ruled as unconstitutional.

The ACLU stated that they will challenge the law in the courts, and many legal observers view the law as unconstitutional. Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed the controversial religious freedom bill into law this morning after lawmakers voted in favor of the bill last week. The law shares many similarities with other religious freedom bills in other states, which have either been vetoed or signed into law, but according to the Charlotte Observer, Mississippi’s law is a little different.

“It is saying a person’s religious belief about these specific types of things always trumps and you can always refuse service,” said Cathryn Oakley of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group that opposes the Mississippi law.

A similar religious freedom bill was signed into law in North Carolina recently, as the Inquisitr reported, in response to controversy over transgender individuals using gendered facilities, including restrooms and locker rooms. The North Carolina religious freedom bill restricts transgender individuals to the gendered facility of their birth gender, which the North Carolina law claims is unchangeable, reports ABC News.

“This means that single moms, same-sex couples and their families, transgender people and vulnerable kids can face discrimination including being turned away from a homeless shelter, denied important medical care, or lose their jobs,” said the ACLU of the Mississippi religious freedom bill signed into law this morning.

The Mississippi religious freedom bill was signed into law this morning, and lawmakers who supported the law claim that the measure isn’t discriminatory. According to Governor Bryant himself, the law only promises not to punish individuals who deny service to other people based on their religious beliefs, provided those religious beliefs are sincerely held and the individuals who are denied service are gay, transgender, or otherwise living an alternative lifestyle that conflicts with sincerely held religious beliefs.

“The legislation is designed in the most targeted manner possible to prevent government interference in the lives of the people from which all power to the state is derived,” Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said this morning in support of the controversial anti-gay law, reports NPR.

Specifically, Bryant says the bill is not discriminatory, because it allows individuals to deny service to people who violate their religious beliefs. The Mississippi religious freedom bill, which was signed into law this morning, specifies the kinds of beliefs that must be held in order to deny service to gay individuals.

“Marriage is between a man and a woman, sex is properly reserved to such a marriage, words like male and female are objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at birth,” reads the Mississippi bill Governor Phil Bryant signed into law this morning.

[Photo by Rogelio V. Solis/AP]

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