Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has signed the oft-mischaracterized House Bill 1523, also known at the "Religious Freedom" bill, into law.
According to NBC News, the law allows businesses, state employees, and pastors, among others, to not be forced to provide services they have a religious objection to — the biggest example being providing services for same-sex weddings.
Proponents say it'll protect people in all careers from having to violate their faith or suffer a discrimination lawsuit. A number of Christian-owned businesses in other states have already been suffering massive fines and court costs where similar laws are not in place.
Critics say the new law is discrimination disguised as faith.
ACLU executive director Jennifer Riley-Collins said, "This is a sad day for the state of Mississippi and for the thousands of Mississippians who can now be turned away from businesses, refused marriage licenses, or denied housing, essential services and needed care based on who they are. This bill flies in the face of the basic American principles of fairness, justice and equality and will not protect anyone's religious liberty."
Bryant defended the law, saying, "This bill does not limit any constitutionally protected rights or actions of any citizen of this state under federal or state laws. It does not attempt to challenge federal laws, even those which are in conflict with the Mississippi Constitution, as the Legislature recognizes the prominence of federal law in such limited circumstances. The legislation is designed in the most targeted manner possible to prevent government interference in the lives of the people from which all power to the state is derived."
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