Phil Bryant, governor of Mississippi, signed bill 1523 on Tuesday, which permits the denial of products and services in a range of venues, “to protect the sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions of individuals, organizations, and private associations.”
Advocating the law, he added that the law does not strip anyone’s existing rights.
I have signed House Bill 1523. Full statement: pic.twitter.com/00DbgQADFt
— Phil Bryant (@PhilBryantMS) April 5, 2016
The bill enables people who, for reasons of faith or devout belief, decline to provide services such as counseling, foster care, adoption, or who object same-sex marriage or any sex outside of marriage as well as transgender people, to receive protection from the government.
Republicans argue that House Bill 1523 aims to rectify legislation problems that were created by the Supreme court ruling for marriage equality last year.
“This is probably the worst religious freedom bill to date,” Ben Needham, director of Project One America, an LGBT advocacy project in the Deep South run by the Human Rights Campaign, stated.
Needham and other critics have argued the legislation explicitly allows the denial of services, goods, wedding products, medical treatment, housing, and employment to LGBT people.
The 13-page measure prohibits the government from “discriminating” against a person and certain organizations for acting on their religious convictions.
It defines “person” broadly — including “sole proprietorship, or closely held company, partnership, association, organization, firm, corporation, cooperative, trust, society or other closely held entity.”
The Mississippi law was enacted little after Georgia’s governor vetoed a religious protection bill under pressure from corporations threatening to pull business from the state, and North Carolina passed a law that targets LGBT rights.
more on this story as it unfolds.
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