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Mississippi Governor Has Now Signed Not One But Two Anti-Gay ‘Religious Freedom’ Bills Into Law

by David Badash on April 3, 2014

in Discrimination,News,Politics,Religion

Post image for Mississippi Governor Has Now Signed Not One But Two Anti-Gay ‘Religious Freedom’ Bills Into Law

Governor Phil Bryant this afternoon signed the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law. The highly-controversial law will allow anyone to discriminate against anyone else in the name of religious liberty, and places the rights and desires of the faithful over those with no religious beliefs. In short, it is a license to discriminate and likely will land the state in court.

Bryant has now signed two anti-gay “religious freedom” bills into law: SB 2633 and SB 2681.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, SB 2681, had been sent back to committee after Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a similar bill. The Mississippi bill was believed dead but lawmakers quickly changed the bill’s language and bill number and rammed it through the legislature in less than 24 hours, allowing the governor to sign it just as the legislative session closed.

The bill contains this troubling text:

“Laws ‘neutral’ toward religion may burden religious exercise as surely as laws intended to interfere with religious exercise.”

“Government should not substantially burden religious exercise without compelling justification.”

The bill could allow a pharmacist to refuse to sell contraception to a particular person, and could allow a child to tell a fellow student perceived as being gay they are going to hell — and cite the law as their right to continuously bully and harass them. The bill could also be used by a corporation to refuse to pay for certain medical procedures via its health insurance program, like abortion or birth control, as in the Hobby Lobby case currently before the Supreme Court.

Standing by Governor Bryant’s side as the bill was signed was none other than the head of the certified anti-gay hate group Family Research Council, Tony Perkins. Perkins then invited Bryant on his radio show this afternoon.

Bryant proceeded to falsely state that his state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act “mirrors” the federal government’s. It does not. Bryant’s characterization of his new law is false, faulty, and could easily lead to tremendous abuses.

Further, as Think Progress’ Zack Ford notes, the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act is different from other states’ RFRAs “because Mississippi law defines the word ‘person’ to include businesses, and thus it applies to corporations instead of just private citizens exercising their religious beliefs.”

And not only did Bryant sign the anti-gay Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law today, but last year he signed another so-called “religious freedom” law — for students.

On March 14, 2013, Bryant signed SB 2633, the Mississippi Student Religious Liberties Act into law. His press office claims the “measure protects students from being discriminated against in a public school for expressing their religious viewpoints or engaging in religious activities.”

In reality, of course, the bill will allow the bullying of any student perceived as LGBT, and will give the bully cover not just through the bible or other religious text, but now through the full force of the power of the state: the law.

“Students may express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions,” the bill’s text reads.

In short, students may announce to their classmates that, for example, LGBT people are going to hell, and the school may not discipline the child, as he can claim “religious freedom.” A student could also verbally attack any student or teacher as a “sinner” for any one of a number of issues, and claim “religious freedom.” It is a get out of jail free card for Mississippi students.

Bryant has opened the door for extreme religious based anti-gay hate to become legitimized, and has ensured his state’s regressive policies and attitudes for decades to come. Religious freedom should never be a yoke to oppress one’s fellow citizens.



Image of Gov. Bryant via Twitter

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly indicated SB 2633, the Mississippi Student Religious Liberties Act, was signed this year. It was signed last year.


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Mykelbarber April 3, 2014 at 6:17 pm

I cannot emigrate from this theocracy fast enough.

airhartmct April 3, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Arizona's RFRA did, in fact, define businesses to be people.

41-1493. Definitions

dbcexplorer April 3, 2014 at 6:34 pm

Mississippi, Uganda, what's the difference? Soon, I'm sure, the Governor will be atop a float in the anti-gay parade through Jackson.

SeanLiberty13 April 3, 2014 at 6:46 pm

Grotesque anti-American Nazi barbarian state. This is why that nasty state is bombarded by well deserved natural disasters. The state deserves to be destroyed by Mother Nature's wrath. Every single inch of it is disgusting, a waste of space.

The good news is that the same can be used equally to harass, discriminate against, publicly condemn, refuse to serve and much more to put anti-gay TRASH in their place. So when an anti-gay student tells you "you deserve to burn in Hell" you tell them "you deserve to hang at the neck like the anti-gay Mussolini did."

If you are pagan that believes Christians should be fed to lions, go ahead, the state has now given you the legal right to do it and the state can't stop you or persecute you for doing as it would be a violation of your religious beliefs. If you religion believes that marriage is btw 2men or 2women or multiple people, the state has no legal right to stop you and must honor it as it would be a violation for them not to. If you believe that women who have a baby out of wedlock should be stoned to death according to the Bible if Bristol Palin comes to your state then by all means stone the whore to death and the state can't stop you.

LGBT and straight allies of Mississippi you should not let this slide. Apply the law equally to anti-gay trash. In fact if your personal belief is that "Christians" do not have a right to discriminate against you, enforce it. Turn the state into a legal free for all that will bankrupt it. Do not allow the anti-gay trash to have peace. Make them pay for their bigotry.

rockymissouri April 3, 2014 at 7:22 pm

A true dullard..

Andrewmata1 April 3, 2014 at 9:14 pm

I live in Mississippi, and I don't agree with this. You also shouldn't hope for the state to be destroyed, because you're being illogical. Mississippi doesn't deserve to be destroyed, the Conservative douchebags who are inconsiderate to other people's beliefs are those who deserve to be destroyed.

SantiAcosta April 4, 2014 at 12:43 am

The essence of faith is love. All else was added by “man”-kind.

Alex_Parrish April 3, 2014 at 10:36 pm

Wait until the first ballsy Muslim student starts telling all the schoolgirls they are going to hell for the way they dress and that his classmates are defiled and unclean for eating pork. Then we'll see how far the "Religious Freedom" aspects of this act extend. That blade cuts both ways.

SantiAcosta April 4, 2014 at 12:34 am

We need to separate church and hate. It’s just amazing how much energy goes into hate. JC would NOT been proud of these people who now say they speak for him. They are so far off the mark of his preaching, they might as well be reading the Koran. The world will not end by fire or flooding but by stupidity. And Mississippi, Texas and a few other states are leading the way.

shle896 April 4, 2014 at 3:15 am

Jesus must be so proud.

KaDerp April 4, 2014 at 9:46 am

So I can now legally burn witches and gas Jews in Mississippi if I want to?

LOrion April 4, 2014 at 7:54 pm

WAKE UP here on MLK Day! We can all be l960’s ACTIVISTS Again!
WELL NOW YOU HAVE YOUR CHANCE.. we all do, to emulate the fine Anti-#Segregation activists of the 60’s…
Now that #MISSISSIPPI has signed into law bills that allows #Discrimination against ALL GAYS
.. Some of us wonder how they will tell?

So we all have a chance to go be ‘Mississippi Activists' this summer..Stage #SitIns.. go on #PrideRides and #MoralMarches just like SELMA!

We, LGBTQI, Allies, Blacks, Browns, Reds, Yellows and even Southern Baptist Whites.. can go be the new Rainbow..
And Proclaim ‘We Are ALL GAY’ .. so Serve Us or Else!

If you are an activist get your group involved ..if not join one.

Fairy_Larry April 5, 2014 at 7:01 am

I'm sick of the religious nut makes me feel bad because I do have some really great friends who are christians and are not batshit crazy…but the Jesus junkies are making it so the church must be vaporized..the sane "faithful" can't seem to get a grip on their insane "believers" so we have too

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