JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant has signed the so-called ‘religious freedom’ bill, also known as House Bill 1523.
The bill prevents state and local government agencies from taking action against state employees, individuals, organizations and private associations that deny service based on religious beliefs.
It does not prevent civil lawsuits based on claims of discrimination.
The measure’s intention is to protect those who believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman, that sexual relations should only take place inside such marriages, and that male and female genders are unchangeable.
Proponents say the legislation is an answer to states that have fined or taken business permits from companies that deny services such as event rentals and bakery services to same-sex couples.
Circuit clerks who do not want to give a wedding license to a same-sex couple could hand over those duties to a deputy clerk.
Opponents say the state is sanctioning discrimination.
In a statement, the ACLU said, ““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. This bill flies in the face of the basic American principles of fairness, justice and equality and will not protect anyone’s religious liberty. Far from protecting anyone from ‘government discrimination’ as the bill claims, it is an attack on the citizens of our state, and it will serve as the Magnolia State’s badge of shame.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom said, “Mississippians from all walks of life believe that the government shouldn’t punish someone because of their views on marriage. The people of Mississippi, from every demographic, support this commonsense ‘live and let live’ bill, which simply affirms the freedom of all people to peacefully live and work according to their deeply held beliefs without threat of punishment from their own government. We commend the governor for signing into law protections for schools, churches, businesses, and public employees so that they won’t face government discrimination. After all, you’re not free if your beliefs are confined to your mind. What makes America unique is our freedom to peacefully live out those beliefs, and the Constitution protects that freedom.”
I have signed House Bill 1523. Full statement: pic.twitter.com/00DbgQADFt
— Phil Bryant (@PhilBryantMS) April 5, 2016