JACKSON, MISS– The Religious Liberties Accommodation Act has been signed into law by Governor Phil Bryant.
The highly controversial bill, House Bill 1523, has garnered both support and disdain beyond the state borders of Mississippi and throughout the country.
“I am signing HB 1523 into law to protect sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions of individuals, organizations, and private associations from discriminatory action by state government or its political subdivisions, which would include counties, cities and institutions of higher learning. This bill merely reinforces the rights which currently exist to exercise of religious freedom as stated in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”
The governor adds that this does not limit the constitutionally protected rights or actions of any citizen of the state under state or federal laws.
Many are already taking to social media to oppose the governor’s decision, including Freedom for All USA stating that Governor Bryant is “ignoring dozens of businesses who have condemned HB 1523.”
Ouida Meruvia, spokesperson for Mississippi Democrats says “It is incredibly disappointing that Governor Bryant and Republican leaders of our state, despite our history, have decided to pass a law that licenses discrimination against our own citizens. Instead of tearing down walls that divide, the Republican Party has spent this session building new barriers of bigotry. We must do better.”
The Human Rights Campaign in Mississippi spearheaded efforts to defeat the bill, including protesting outside the Governor’s mansion and Capitol. HRC President Chad Griffin claims they were turned away when asked to meet with the Governor:
“Gov Phil Bryant adds his name to a list of disgraced Southern governors by signing this hateful and discriminatory bill into law,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Governor Bryant refused to meet with LGBT people and even turned us away at the door of his office. He refused to listen to business leaders. He refused to listen to Mississippians. And now his state will suffer because of his ignorance and failure of leadership. Just as we’re doing elsewhere, we will continue to rally fair-minded voters, businesses, and civil rights advocates to repeal.”
Alliance of Defending Freedom spokesperson Legal Counsel Kellie Fiedorek sees the other side of the story:
“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.”
The District of Columbia mayor Muriel Bowser has filed a bill that will prohibit any city workers official travel to Mississippi. They’ve already passed a similar ban on travel to North Carolina for their new law excluding LGBT people from protection against discrimination.
The bill would make traveling to these states a part of city law by city workers. Any state that approves these laws could be banned for D.C. workers.
This isn’t the only place where travel is banned. The state of Vermont has also prohibited official business to be done in Mississippi.