Mississippi enacts law allowing gays to be denied services

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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  • 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:

    “ 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.

  • 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:


  • 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.

  • 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.

  • “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.

  • “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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • “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.

  • 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.

  • 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,

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

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

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

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

  • First of all Jesus said the poor will always be with you , He also said if you love me keep my commandments Jesus also said unless one repents they will parrish. The churches job is two fold to reach the lost with the Gospel and second to demonstrate said love.If I did not love the adulter or the fornicator or the drunker or homosexual or anyone else that rejects Jesus’s gift of redemption I would agree,it would be hate,if I failed to warn them of the coming judgement.Call me what you will I don’t care.and my question to you is when was the last time you spent your time and money helping the poor?My church passes out some 600 bags of food each month.

  • You who disagree with religious freedom are telling me I must stand with the lifestyles of feces, diseases, death, pornography, men raping boys, called man/boy love in homosexual circles and every vile, sexual lifestyle?

    You tell me I must stand with gay parades which are beyond wicked and where gays and pedophiles march together for rights.

    Today too many stand with what is lewd, vile, and debaucherous. To say everyone must stand with 1.6% of the population of America who engage in queer lifestyles is beyond any moral reasoning.

    The democrats stand with ACLU. They are the party of the ACLU and ACLU lawyers work to obtain rights for pedophiles and gays, which has been made clearly visible on their website for years. They have always been determined to remove rights from Christians. More and more people, including Planned Parenthood, stand with people who rape children and will not report it. Many democrats stand with child rape today and its trafficking. How long will it be before citizens are arrested for not approving of child rape, with the consideration of the fact, 86 percent of pedophiles are gay according to investigations.

    I will stand on the lifestyle of life where there are no sexual diseases, death by them, etc, which equates to, two virgins coming together, a man and a woman, in natural marriage for life, in total commitment to moral decency; whereby their children are raised in a happy virtuous setting.

    Once upon a time in our nation, actually not that long ago, chastity, modesty, purity, innocence, being undefiled, offering pure speech, etc, were considered quality traits. The name “Prudence” was a common name. You see, I stand on historical correctness, the time when most Americans married as virgins. And AIDS did not exist.

    Suicide is prominent among those who engage in the lifestyle of death and those who become bound in other types of promiscuity.

    The facts: “Each year, one out of every three gay, lesbian or bisexual students in the San Francisco Unified School District reportedly, attempts suicide. For transgender students, that number jumps to nearly one in two.”

    Promiscuous sex leads to suicide among our young: “Sexually active girls are nearly three times more likely to attempt suicide than girls who are pure.”

    “Sexually active teenage boys are eight times more likely to attempt suicide than boys who are pure.” (Proverbs chapter 7 in the Bible)

    Why not warn, as keepers of the law against following the crowd in sinful activity that produces guilt, bondage, depression, diseases, and death? This is part of loving one another. True love stands on a healthy life and sweet innocence. Why promote this lifestyle of feces, diseases and death— the homosexual agenda?

    Why not promote two virgins coming together, male and female, in natural faithful marriage where not sexual diseases exist?

    Knowing how homosexuality is being promoted and Christians hated, I can logically inquire, how long will it be before natural families are arrested? I am referring to moms, dads and children being placed in some type of prison camps for enjoying God’s plan for the family? This would appease homosexuals who hate natural marriage and want it removed from society. It is all about pleasing people who are involved in the lifestyles of feces, diseases and death.

    It is interesting, half of Muslim bakeries will not bake cakes for homosexuals; yet, homosexuals never targeted them nor spoke against Muslims before the terrorist attack in Orlando. They know in Muslim countries, Homosexuals are murdered without question. Yet, never have we witnessed a homosexual attempt to sue anyone of the Islam belief system for their known deadly hatred for homosexuals. Of course, this is because the agenda has been silencing Christians who hold to moral uprightness.

    “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus Christ) that whoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

    Thank you for listening, Val Lee of “val lee weblog”

  • On the contrary, the disease of this nation is hate-mongering bigots such as yourself. You are no Christian. If you
    were you’d be spending as much time speaking against all of the other
    100s of sins mentioned in the Bible, as ALL are sinners (including
    yourself hypocrite). But you don’t, you spend all of your time and
    effort spewing your hate on this one small group of ppl. Christ spoke against self-righteous, pseudo-Christian hypocrites such as yourself. He will not accept you after this
    life for the evil in your heart. Change your ways bigot, Judgement in

  • Maybe if you use the word “bigot” a few more times, you won’t sound like such an ignorant tool… Highly unlikely, though.