Mississippi enacts law allowing gays to be denied services

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Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant  signed a "religious freedom" bill April 5. REUTERS/Rogelio V. Solis/Pool  - RTR4Y6B9

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed a "religious freedom" bill April 5. REUTERS/Rogelio V. Solis/Pool - RTR4Y6B9

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant's office says he will carefully review a religious freedom bill opposed by LGBT rights activists. REUTERS/Rogelio V. Solis

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant on April 5, 2015, signed a religious freedom bill opposed by LGBT rights activists. REUTERS/Rogelio V. Solis

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant on Tuesday signed a far-reaching law allowing people with religious objections to deny wedding services to same-sex couples and protecting other actions considered discriminatory by gay rights activists.

The measure also clears the way for employers to cite religion in determining workplace policies on dress code, grooming and bathroom and locker access, drawing criticism from civil rights leaders.

Bryant, a Republican, said in a statement he signed the law “to protect sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions of individuals, organizations and private associations from discriminatory action by state government.”


RELATED STORY: Virginia governor vetoes religious protection bill


Mississippi is the latest state drawing national protest for a law seen as anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT). North Carolina recently barred transgender people from choosing bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.

Tennessee is considering similar legislation related to school bathrooms, and civil rights groups are watching a Missouri measure seen as discriminatory. Last week, the governors of Georgia and Virginia vetoed “religious liberty” bills.

The latest wave of measures, pushed by social conservatives, came after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year that legalized same-sex marriage.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) criticized the Mississippi law, which is expected to take effect in July.

“This is a sad day for the state of Mississippi and for the thousands of Mississippians who can now be turned away from businesses, refused marriage licenses, or denied housing, essential services and needed care based on who they are,” said Jennifer Riley-Collins, executive director of the ACLU of Mississippi, in a statement.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo responded by banning all non-essential state travel to Mississippi.

“We will continue to reject the politics of division and exclusion. This Mississippi law is a sad, hateful injustice,” Cuomo said in a statement.

The ACLU, which is involved in a federal lawsuit challenging the North Carolina law, said it was considering its next steps in Mississippi.

Major U.S. companies have pushed back against such legislation, with the North Carolina law opposed by Apple Inc , Twitter Inc, Alphabet Inc and others.

On Tuesday, PayPal Holdings Inc canceled plans to open a global operations center in Charlotte, North Carolina and invest $3.6 million locally.

In Mississippi, critics included large employers such as Nissan North America and MGM Resorts International.

Still, nearly two-thirds of Mississippi voters supported the law, according to a poll highlighted on Tuesday by the Family Research Council, an influential Christian lobbying group.

(Reporting by Letitia Stein)

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  • The governor and all christians who support this bill are complicit in all suicide and harm the bill causes. Feel the burn.

  • This law is an act of bigotry which shames me as an American citizen.

    But only a sick, backward philosophy could endorse such state sponsored
    pain and ignorance

    “The only cure for homosexuals is for them to be put to death” – Pastor Robbie Galaty, Tennessee Megachurch, Sept 12, 2014
    “Kill homosexuals” – GOD (Leviticus 20:13)
    “Homosexuals shall receive the DUE PENALTY” – PAUL (Romans 1:18-27)
    “Execute my enemies in front of me” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

    Someday all this nonsense will be abandoned. Just as it was mocked in 1776 by GEORGE WASHINGTON himself:

    “..no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.”
    ~ Founding Father George Washington,
    letter to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia, May 1789

    America is clearly a shameful shadow of what it once was.
    Thanks to religion.

  • Ben in oakland

    Of course he signed it. There are no political protections for gay people in Mississippi, the Nigeria of the south.

    The purpose of this bill was simply to let gay people know their place, in case they have forgotten it. But it still may backfire, seeing as it is explicitly codifying discrimination on the basis of religious belief, something that is forbidden at every level of government, even in Nigerssippi.

    Like the marriage bans before it, these transparent attempts to make gay people second class citizens, subject to the theological whims of their completely imaginary superiors, may well lead to the best possible outcome:

    STRICT SCRUTINY, HERE WE COME.

  • Ben in oakland

    Or not. Look to your own salvation, sinner boy,

    white Jesus certainly had something to say about whited sepulchers, those who would deny heaven to others, and those who are certain that they are god’s BFFF.

    It always amazes me about those who would presume to know the relationship of God to anyone else on the planet, and who are so certain that their god’s prejudices certainly match so well their own.

  • Zachary

    I pretty sure that if Jesus in fact walked this earth he was likely not white.

  • yoh

    Just to show the governor is not a monomaniac when it comes to bigotry, he is a racist as well.. Confederate Heritage Month? Really?

    http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/25/politics/mississippi-confederate-heritage-month/

  • yoh

    I think it was an auto-correct fail for “While Jesus…”

  • Therefore, we don’t need to punish them ourselves in the here and now.

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  • Christopher Sanchez

    You have a special gift for taking statements out of context.

  • yoh

    Not nearly as much as people who use scripture to justify discrimination and malicious behavior. At least he isn’t advocating attacks on civil liberties. When Christians acknowledge how their “sincerely held beliefs” rely on taking scripture out of context, they can talk about how others are doing so.

  • Ergo

    “If you are a florist or baker, you WILL do my gay wedding, and you WILL like it.” That’s what opponents of this law are saying. It’s absurd. We’ve lost our collective minds and critical thinking skills, all in the name of PC. This is far from bigotry, friends, and Christians are not the ones asking for the right to be intolerant here.

  • yoh

    “If you are a florist or baker, you will cater my mixed race wedding and you’ll like it”

    It’s not being PC, it’s respecting the civil liberties if ones customers. A business open to the public means it is open to the public. If one wants to discriminate in their business they already can do so by forming members only clubs, word of mouth business or work within a church. Malicious bigotry does not need protection of law.

  • “Out of context!”, said the criminal to the judge.

    What sort of real God would insist rape, genocide, slavery, bigotry and torture are okay so long as they are “IN CONTEXT”?

    I wouldn’t trust a person who found a good context for such things.
    And neither should anyone else! Good grief.

  • Rick

    Who is being required to like something? Oh right, no one. So guess who is lacking critical thinking skills? Business owners are being required to do their jobs, which is to serve the public without prejudice and without discriminating against anyone. They are not required to like the couple, the ceremony, the guests, the venue, the other vendors, or anything else. The florist or the baker are not being required to attend the ceremony or the reception after, therefore they do not have to participate in any rituals they do not agree with. Florists and bakers are providing decorations and dessert, and nothing else. Even a photographer/videographer is not required to participate in the event. They record it for posterity, and are not required to agree with or like it.. They all have a professional reputation to uphold, and that should be their focus so they attract more business.

  • Just wait until the Electric company, the hospitals and the Ambulance drivers
    get to decide which customers are “Proper Christians” – then we’ll see the true evil of religion’s maddening influence over our laws.

    Religion is a public nuisance. It needs to go back to church.

  • ben in oakland

    Actually, I’m fairly certain we have no idea what Jews 2000 years ago looked like. And that part of the world has been overrun so many times it is unlikely that we would know.

    White Jesus is an internet meme, a comment on the apparent need of fundamentalists Christians to makeover Jesus in their very own image. He sure does look like a white protestant these days.

    I have a 3d wiggle picture I bought 35 years go, showing jesus as a bottle blond with curly locks and deep blue eyes.

  • Rod

    Just curious: Why would New York state ever pay for travel to Mississippi (or anywhere else) that is “not essential?” Wouldn’t that be a waste of taxpayer money? Oh, right. Nothing new there. Never mind

  • Jay

    Inasmuch as there is nothing essential in Mississippi, you are correct: it would certainly be a waste of taxpayer money for New York state workers to attend a convention or other even in Mississippi. I will also refrain from spending any personal money on anything in or from Mississippi.

  • George Nixon Shuler

    That’s an insult to the people of Nigeria.

  • George Nixon Shuler

    On the contrary, it is those who seek to refuse services who are demanding political correctness. Prior to the civil rights laws, they had the right to refuse services to racial minorities, etc. Do you think that was right?

    Now, these days, there are certain businesses which are or were de facto segregated, like churches and funeral homes – often, in small towns, there may be a white and a black funeral home, but, less so today than 15 years ago. And the white-owned home will have black staff and vice versa. But florists, etc, usually serve everybody. Would it be right in your view for a florist to say, “We don’t do flower arrangements for interracial unions”? The characteristics of the person being refused services are not the issue. The wrong is in being inhospitable. It is not in any reasonable sense an exercise of religion.

  • ben in oakland

    “If you are a florist or baker, you WILL do my gay wedding, and you WILL like it.”

    that is an accurate statement in framing the debate as “poor Christian victims, persecuted for their faith’, but not of reality. If one of these martyrbaters doesn’t wish to take a job, there are plenty of perfectly legal, polite ways of doing so. Starting with “I’m booked. Call Jone.”

    I don’t want you to do my wedding if you don’t like gay people, and I don’t want to give you my money.

    But I do wish to be treated the same respect and courtesy as all of the other people you believe are going to burn in hell forever, but whose business you don’t refuse and whom you would NEVER say “you dirty sinners.”

    You want the SPECIAL right to discriminate on the basis of your beliefs HERE AND HERE ONLY– gay people. It’s VERY telling. You want to be able to tell me all about your faith, and how you have the right to ignore non-discrimination laws which govern all of us.

  • ben in oakland

    Sure you are.

    “I want to discriminate against you within the legal meaning of the word on the basis of my religious beliefs about the sinfulness of homosexuality. But I don’t want to be called on it: not an antigay bigot nor a religious bigot. So I’ll use words like PC to deflect away from the fact that the court of public opinion in the civilized world disagrees now. And I’ll pretend that being rude and intolerant is being polite and tolerant.

    “I really don’t care that we have laws at every level of government which forbid such discrimination, because this is about icky gays and God and all. I don’t care that a lot of religious people disagree with me. I don’t care if trying to find exceptions to these laws merely emphasizes why we have them. I just want to be able to say “I don’t serve your kind here” and maintain my public image as a nice guy.

  • yoh

    And the tourism. Plus the fact that companies which are based in NY frequently have facilities in MS. The problem is the state is such a @#$&hole economically to begin with that economic boycott can’t do much worse than they have done to themselves.

    Way to go MS on the race to the bottom of all quality of life stats,

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  • Matthew Morrison

    Should a Hasidic Rabbe go to Jail for refusing to perform such marriage? Mississippi love Jews and hates antisemitic discrimination.

  • Matthew Morrison

    Should a Hasidic Rabbe go to Jail for refusing to perform such marriage? Mississippi love Jews and hates antisemitic discrimination.

  • TrueBeliever4

    Government leaders do not understand the real issue that Christians are being targeted and discriminated against by a culture that is anti-Christian. Christians believe that the path to the kingdom of heaven cannot be bought or sold. Christians should boycott businesses that have come out as anti-Christian by not spending their money on any of their products. Do not help them at all. Governor Kasich and Governor Nathan Deal should take lessons from Governor Phil Bryant on real leadership. You must recognize all of your citizenry even if the situation is complex. Governors get paid the big bucks not to jump on the hyped up bandwagon. With recent religious liberty legislation, Governor Phil Bryant recognized, and rightly so, that Christians believe God resides in them. This is who they really are. Anti-Christian businesses, gays, ISIS and deceptive media headlines must stop targeting and discriminating against Christians. This is precisely why religious liberty legislation is necessary.

  • Rstansd

    I love to hear all these people talking about boycotting businesses which are against so-called “religious freedom” bills .. Guess it’s times to get rid of your iPhones , stop shopping at Wal-mart, stop watching both the NBA and the NFL, stop watching shows like The Walking Dead,movies like The avengers or all the or any television or movies for that matter(as the list includes Time Warner ,Lionsgate, Sony,Viacom and on and on) . Also time to stop taking your kids to Disneyworld or showing them Disney movies. Time to stop drinking Coke and Pepsi or eating any of the dozens of popular brands or fast food restaurants associated or owned by them.
    Anyone claiming to boycott business standing up against these bills will soon be sitting at home drinking tap water and growing their own food with nothing to entertain them.

  • Katherine

    How many ways can you find to hate, using faux religion as your pulpit? Has everyone forgotten Jim Jones? If Mississippi upholds this law, the business in question should be REQUIRED to display large signs stating they do not serve gays! I sure wouldn’t be buying donuts there or flowers or anything! I am straight as an arrow but it is not my business what someone else’s sexual preferences are! Mississippi is already the poorest state, now it is also the dumbest! I PRAY all will inquire before making a purchase anywhere if that business serves gays! And all big money makers who bring shows to Mississippi will boycott this insanity!
    The bible talks more about love and poverty than any other topics! I sure don’t see any Christian “Love” in this new law! I see a tempest in a teapot!

  • skay 378

    Good drive around. Sodomites weren’t allowed in Jerusalem either. And we don’t care if you ever come here.

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  • truebeliever4

    The Bible is a real source to turn to if you need help in this area. It really does uplift the spirit.