Mississippi Governor Signs ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill into Law

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant has signed the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" into law, WLOX reports:

BryantMembers and supporters of the LGBT community are concerned the bill will open the door to discrimination against gay people and other groups. Opponents of the bill say the discrimination could also be directed towards ethnic minorities and other religious groups.

Supporters claim the bill mirrors the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993.

Said Bryant: "I am proud to sign the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act today, which will protect the individual religious freedoms of Mississippians of all faiths from government interference. Mississippi has now joined 18 other states to defend religious freedoms on a state level."

The bill's language reads:

"A person whose religious exercise has been burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding and obtain appropriate relief against the government … This section applies to all state laws, rules, regulations and any municipal or county ordinances, rules or regulations and the implementation of those laws, whether statutory or otherwise, and whether adopted before or after the enactment of this section."

GetEQUAL released a statement:

Today is a sad day for Mississippi and a sad day for the country. Earlier today, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act — a hate-filled bill that asserts both the moral and legal superiority of anti-LGBT Christians over and above everyone else.

We had hoped that the governor would see that this bill will further isolate Mississippi within the business community. We had hoped that the governor would see that this bill will hurt those who live in the state or who are considering moving there. We had hoped that the governor would see that this bill will, in fact, hurt his own family and people who he loves. We had hoped that the "family values" that the governor espouses would hold true and that he would act in a way that fully values his own family. Unfortunately, hatred and ignorance won out today — and our hearts are with those fair-minded Mississippians who call the state home.


  1. JT says

    I hope some athiests and others bring up lawsuits against people who burden them with their religion, including their bosses. I would wager that this goes both ways because of the constitution.

  2. CB says

    There was a big backlash when Arizona’s legislature passed a similar law, where is the backlash on the backwards ippississiM? I have not heard of any businesses pulling out or voice repercussions.

  3. says

    In the meantime – boycott Mississippi completely. Do not visit, spend money, buy any product online that comes from or is shipped from Mississippi and provide no funding for Mississippi charities. Let every resident of Mississippi grovel in the gutter. If you are gay get out of Mississippi – these are not people who will help or protect you.

  4. Dback says

    LOL, JT, that’s exactly where my head went–or the Church of Satan, like in the public statue brouhaha going on in Oklahoma. Boy howdy, you know that those evangelicals will be suing in a heartbeat if THEY feel discriminated against!!

  5. bobbyjoe says

    And lo, Mississippi continues its centuries old trend of being on the wrong side of history every single time.

    Glad they have time to pass legislation that even dogs and cats know is unconstitutional. Meanwhile, how’s that education system, Mississippi? Still one of the lowest rankings in the nation?

    Can we finally kick this state out of the union? Its a total embarrassment.

  6. JackFknTwist says

    History just called; she has her broom ready for this toad, his bigotry, his crass ignorance and his inability to grasp the basics of legislation and the constitution.
    Let the sweeping away commence.

  7. JJ says

    @CB, I’m guessing there hasn’t been much backlash because no one cares enough about Mississippi to pay it any attention. It’s a national embarrassment. They have nothing to boycott. I’ve looked up several lists of top MS companies and Peavey is the only one I’ve heard of. Companies just don’t do business there. Maybe it’s their still deeply entrenched racist pride. They had a referendum in 2001 asking voters to remove the Confederate battle insignia from the state flag and the referendum failed. In 2001.

  8. Macmantoo says

    Mississippi is the “ass-crack” of America. The reason there is no calls for boycott is they have nothing there to boycott unless you want to go after companies doing business there. There are a couple of major companies there but the most prominent is Harrah’s.

  9. johnny says

    Wasn’t the rest of the nation pretty much already boycotting Mississippi? I mean, this really doesn’t change much for me, personally. Not sure what the gay population is there, but they just got a good reason to leave – as if they didn’t already have one.

  10. Jim says

    This is a very dark and sad day in America. The very fabric of our modern Democracy is being compromised. Billionaires can now “buy” elections in our country; states are now legislating discrimination into their laws; and the separation of Church and State is dangerously eroding. NOW is the time for us to stand up like we have in the past and NOT tolerate this!

  11. Greg says

    You know, it’s easy for some of you to say “just leave.” Fact is, I have deep ties to my birth state. My family is here, and my partner and I are successful co-business owners. There is a large population of LGBT people here. Just leaving isn’t something feasible for all of us to do – at least not at this time. Besides, isn’t it sometimes better to have allies on the “inside,” grow some balls, and put up a damn good fight than to simply walk away and say, “Fine, you’ve won.” I was raised to stand up for what I believe in and to not bow down.

  12. says

    You’re right, Greg. It’s easy to write off a whole state from a distance, when you have no ties to a place. For people who have ties, it’s not so easy, and to dismiss a state is to dismiss its LGBT citizens and those who are fair-minded. The blame belongs to the powers-that-be who pushed this travesty through and on those who elected these bigots. Unfortunately, that’s a lot of people in Mississippi, but far from everyone.

  13. JackFknTwist says

    On Church and State :
    We need a comprehensive proactive vocal lobby group on behalf of atheists everywhere.

    There’s a whole lot of erosion of our rights not to believe in god being pushed especially by evangelicals. They seem to think that their club of emotionally unstable, insecure followers are entitled to have legislation passed to bolster their phantasmagoric beliefs.
    Enough of that $h1t.
    Atheists must have legislation in exact numerical terms to mirror all this religious nonsense.

  14. Jim says

    This law flatly violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which outlaws religion-based discrimination. Period. This is yet another tea bagger, neo-confederate attempt to nullify federal law with state law. It will not work. State laws that defy federal law are no legal defense in federal court. This legal gambit has been tried in states that have liberalized their anti-marijuana laws; people are in federal prison this moment who violated federal anti-marijuana law but tried to defend themselves with state law in federal court. Didn’t work then, won’t work now, and won’t work next week. Federal courts need to slap this neo-confederate crap down hard. The Constitution of the United States is supreme in this country, not Mississippi.

  15. Constance says

    F-ck all these privileged religious people. all of them, and the ones who are supposedly “pro gay” are first to defend the anti gay ones as “they have a right to their free speech to not approve of you and your rights” seen it far too many times.

  16. Mike Rolands says

    And some people wonder why I don’t date even gay Christians. No time for that dogma and brainwashing. And yes, I have spent time with many gay Christians and in each case, SOME bias against gays is revealed. Maybe not at first, but get to talk to them for a while and they’ll reveal some superiority complex to the gay community due to their Christianity and it’s not pretty. Religion gives people a complex where they think they are superior.

  17. Hughes says

    Why aren’t we calling out religion more often? Religious camps have doubled down on their hate and bigotry and we remain silent. I don’t care how many PR tactics show some churches are gay friendly (VERY small minority in comparison to those that aren’t)…every single anti gay bill in this nation has been passed and campaigned due to the church. GET VOCAL and call out Christianity. Tired of tip toing around it.

  18. Joe in Ct says

    Well said Ernie. Greg, I don’t know what to say beyond that. It’s got to be scary living in Mississippi. Hopefully, at some point, there will be Federal LGBT protections in place to trump your state’s antiquated new law.

  19. Joseph L. says

    Good thing the Boston Marathon bombings took place in Massachusetts… if it was the Jackson marathon then those little bastards would have walked free. I mean, they were just exercising their religious freedom right? O.o

  20. wheelie81 says

    I love reading all these comments labeling all Christians, all southerners, and all Mississippians as evil. You want to be excepted and tolerated for who you are, but yet, you can’t do the same.

  21. jexer says

    Mississippi is ranked the worst state in the union on so many charts… that one more strike against it hardly matters.

    I pity the people stuck there.

  22. Jack M says

    As Americans, we are entitled to freedom of, and freedom from, religion. That’s the bottom line. These attempts to make the USA into a theocracy makes me ill.

  23. 1♥ says

    To all the Gays in Mississippi,
    You now have the religious freedom to marry. Please use this law to your advantage and force the state to recognize your religious freedom to perform marriage ceremonies.

  24. bill hill says

    To borrow from SNL’s church lady “isn’t that special?” I guess it was the religious right that wanted “special rights”. Don’t accuse the gay community of that claim anymore !

  25. bill hill says

    To borrow from SNL’s church lady “isn’t that special?” I guess it was the religious right that wanted “special rights”. Don’t accuse the gay community of that claim anymore !

  26. TonyJazz says

    I understand that the Mississippi version (vs. Arizona’s) was diluted to basically impact nothing at all.

    Not that the leadership of the state should be forgiven for their efforts to promote bigotry and discrimination.

    Since most of us will never visit the state, I hope that those of you along the coast don’t fill their coffers at the casinos. (I hear Nevada is on the verge of gay marriage….)

    Not all Southerners are haters, but too many are….

  27. Armando says

    You couldn’t write a better law that defies the endorsement clause of the first amendment.

    Wait until they find out that Muslims might have religious objections. Didn’t Louisiana repeal its religious school voucher law because they didn’t realize that Muslims would use them for their schools?

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