Mississippi governor signs religious liberty law
Religious Liberty | The Religious Liberty Accommodations Act is designed to ‘protect sincerely held religious beliefs’
by Samantha Gobba
Posted 4/05/16, 05:40 pm
A new state law known as the Religious Liberty Accommodations Act will now protect business owners in Mississippi who believe in traditional marriage.
The state’s Republican governor, Phil Bryant, said he signed Mississippi House Bill 1523 on Tuesday “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. …”
The Religious Liberty Accommodations Act cites cases where the government fined or forced closure of wedding-related businesses because they would not participate in ceremony involving a homosexual union. The law protects the convictions of those who believe marriage is between one man and one woman, that sex is for marriage alone, and that “maleness” or “femaleness” refers to a person’s actual biology.
“In a pluralistic society, in which people of good faith hold more than one view of marriage, it is possible for the government to recognize same-sex marriage without forcing persons with sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions to conform,” the act states.
Bryant intended the law to prevent government from interfering with people’s lives, but opponents of the legislation would like to see more interference levied by the state.
Hundreds of protesters surrounded the governor’s mansion on Monday, holding signs reading “Veto HB 1523,” and “No Hate in My State.”
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT activist group, addressed the crowd and called on the governor to veto the bill.
He referred to the bill as a “draconian measure” that would discriminate against LGBT people.
Jennifer Riley-Collins, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, spoke out against the bill in a statement: “It is an attack on the citizens of our state, and it will serve as the Magnolia State’s badge of shame.”
Supporters of the law are pleased, seeing it as a needed protection of religious liberty.
Tony Perkins, president of The Family Research Council, told The (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger his organization applauded state leaders for the move: “No person should be punished by the government with crippling fines, or face disqualification for simply believing what President Obama believed just a few years ago, that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.”
The Religious Liberty Accommodations Act doesn’t represent Mississippi’s first move to protect traditional marriage. The new act follows on the heels of the 2014 Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which declared that the state “shall not burden a person’s right to the exercise of religion.”
The new law will take effect July 1.
Samantha reports on the pro-life movement for WORLD Digital.