Several news sites, including NPR, are reporting that Mississippi Governor has signed a religious freedom bill into law. The bill, HB 1523, “promises that the state government will not punish people who refuse to provide services to people because of a religious opposition to same-sex marriage, extramarital sex or transgender people.”According to Gov. Bryant the signed the bill into law “to protect sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions…from discriminatory action by state government.”, he went on to say that the new law “does not limit any constitutionally protected right or actions…the legislation is designed in the most targeted manner possible to prevent government interference in the lives of the people from which all the power to the state is derived.”
The new law makes it legal for state employees to refuse licenses to same-sex couples, it also makes it legal for religious organizations to fire or discipline employees based on sexual orientation and protects counseling or medical services if they chose to refuse service to people based on religious beliefs. Although the U.S. supreme court made same-sex marriage legal, most states, especially Mississippi allow for the discrimination of members of the LGBT when it comes to providing employment, housing and public accommodation.
According to NPR the language of the law also “suggests protection for the who deny services based on an opposition to premarital sex”. Those who support the bill say it “protects the rights of people who are opposed to homosexuality but who now live in a country where same-sex marriage is a legal right”, those who oppose say the bill makes it possible for open discrimination on the LGBT community.