JACKSON, Miss. – An Arizona bill deemed the “Turn Away the Gay’s Bill” by some national media has moved to the Arizona Governor’s desk. New found controversy over whether or not Gov. Jan Brewer will sign the bill has shed new light on Mississippi’s Religions Freedom Restoration Act (SB 2681). That bill passed the Miss. Senate 48-0 back in January.
Here’s a look at the Bill’s Text:
AN ACT TO ENACT THE MISSISSIPPI RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RESTORATION ACT; TO PROVIDE THAT STATE ACTION OR AN ACTION BY ANY PERSON BASED ON STATE ACTION SHALL NOT BURDEN A PERSON’S RIGHT TO THE EXERCISE OF RELIGION; TO AMEND THE 1818 MISSISSIPPI LAWS, ACT OF JANUARY 19, 1818, PAGE 142, TO REVISE THE GREAT SEAL OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI; TO PROVIDE THAT STATE AGENCIES SHALL CONTINUE TO — USE STATIONERY AND OTHER SUPPLIES HAVING THE 1818 SEAL THEREON UNTIL SUPPLIES OF SUCH ITEMS ARE DEPLETED; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
The questionable phrase in the bill is “TO PROVIDE THAT STATE ACTION OR AN ACTION BY ANY PERSON BASED ON STATE ACTION SHALL NOT BURDEN A PERSON’S RIGHT TO THE EXERCISE OF RELIGION.”
In this case, the “exercise of religion” is defined as “the ability to act in a manner that is substantially motivated by one’s sincerely held religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.”
Under those circumstances, opponents say it would be legal for a restaurant to deny service to a gay couple, or a Muslim could refuse service to someone because they are Christian, Jewish, or atheist, or vice versa.
The bill is currently making its way through the Miss. House.