John M. Becker

MS Governor Signs 'Right to Discriminate' Bill Into Law

Filed By John M. Becker | April 03, 2014 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Christianists, discrimination, Mississippi, Phil Bryant, religious freedom, religious liberty, special rights, Tony Perkins

mississippi-give-up-discrimination.pngExactly as promised, this afternoon Mississippi's Republican Governor Phil Bryant signed SB 2681, a bill that creates the "right" for people and businesses to discriminate against LGBT people and other minority groups, as long as they claim they're doing so for religious reasons.

As I noted this morning, the law will have the likely effect of undermining or even blocking future efforts to pass local LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination statutes, as it specifically covers "any municipal or county ordinances, rules or regulations and the implementation of those laws," regardless of whether they were enacted before or after the law's enactment.

It could also allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense HIV medication, contraception, or hormone replacement therapy; permit businesses like restaurants, hotels, bakeries, photographers, reception halls, and formalwear stores to turn away same-sex couples; and undercut nondiscrimination policies at public universities.

The new law goes into force on July 1.

The Family Research Council, an anti-LGBT hate group that lobbied heavily for the bill's passage, is exultant at the news:

The victory was a huge one for FRC, who worked with local churches and conservative policy organizations to coordinate a pastors' letter in support of the measures with more than 600 signatures. That, in turn, helped to bring along the business community -- which, in Arizona, was so deceived by the media and outside leftist groups that it couldn't distinguish what the bill actually did. Mississippi companies didn't have that problem, because the state tuned out the propaganda and focused on the actual language.

Let's hope this discriminatory new "turn away the gays" law is challenged in court as quickly as possible.

UPDATE: GetEQUAL released a statement condemning Bryant's signing of SB 2681. It's after the jump.

GetEQUAL:

Today is a sad day for Mississippi and a sad day for the country. Earlier today, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act -- a hate-filled bill that asserts both the moral and legal superiority of anti-LGBT Christians over and above everyone else.

We had hoped that the governor would see that this bill will further isolate Mississippi within the business community. We had hoped that the governor would see that this bill will hurt those who live in the state or who are considering moving there. We had hoped that the governor would see that this bill will, in fact, hurt his own family and people who he loves. We had hoped that the "family values" that the governor espouses would hold true and that he would act in a way that fully values his own family. Unfortunately, hatred and ignorance won out today -- and our hearts are with those fair-minded Mississippians who call the state home.

But our hearts are not permanently broken and our hope is not irrevocably lost. We will re-double our efforts to convince decision-makers in Mississippi that love always wins, that the arc of the universe always bends toward justice, and that we will never give up on the right of all people to live with freedom and dignity as their full, authentic selves. We will continue to work with and support that "moral majority" throughout the state who believe in fairness and justice. And we will work until our hands bleed to ensure that every Mississippian has the right to fully live up to their potential and into their future -- despite the efforts of the small-minded and cold-hearted who supported this bill.

Love will win. Hope will persevere. Justice will ensue. Equality will triumph, and we recommit ourselves to making sure that it does.

h/t: Zack Ford, ThinkProgress.
Image via the ACLU.


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