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Mississippi's "License to Discriminate" law
to give businesses the freedom to discriminate

Part 12:
2014-APR: More reactions to SB 2681,
the Mississippi religious freedom bill
.

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The acronym LGBT refers to the Lesbian, Gay,
Bisexual and Transgender community

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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More reactions to the new law, by conservative and liberal organizations:

  • Jennifer Riley-Collins, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Mississippi, said:

    "We remain hopeful that courts throughout the state will reject any attempts to use religion to justify discrimination. Nobody should be refused service because of who they are." 1

  • Eunice Rho, an advocacy and policy counsel with the ACLU, said:

    "Even though the Mississippi legislature removed some of the egregious language from Arizona's infamous SB 1062, we are disappointed that it passed this unnecessary law and ignored the national, public outcry against laws of this nature. We will continue to fight in state legislatures across the country to ensure that religious freedom remains a shield, not a sword." 1

  • Tony Merevick, writing for BuzzFeed said:

    "During the Senate debate, Sen. Derrick Simmons, a Democrat who has been outspoken in his opposition to the legislation, urged his colleagues to vote no, saying, 'I urge you not to legalize discrimination in the State of Mississippi.'

    'I believe certainly by the way that this bill is drafted that it will allow discrimination in Mississippi,' Simmons said. 'There is nothing in the proposed legislation that prohibits that.'

    In a somewhat heated exchange, Sen. Gary Jackson asked Simmons to point to a section of the bill that would open the door to discrimination. Simmons said he couldn’t, but repeated that there’s no language in the bill that would prohibit discrimination."

  • Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, issued a statement saying:

    "Senate Bill 2681 would promote discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals and families in Mississippi. As a minister, it’s clear that this extreme bill is about legalizing discrimination, not protecting religious freedom. Furthermore the broad implications of this bill could result in discrimination aimed toward many [other] communities."

  • Philip Gunn (R). the Speaker of the Mississippi House issued a press release, saying:

    "The RFRA language in this conference report is responsible and narrow in focus. The goal of the House, from the beginning, has been to craft language that protects the religious freedoms for all and prevents discrimination against anyone. This RFRA language is virtually the same language passed in 1993 by Congress. It passed the United State House of Representatives on a unanimous voice vote, passed the United States Senate 97-3, and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton."

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Reactions to the passage of the bill by the public:

LegiScan has published information on the bill that attracted comments from the public. 2 Some typical comments were:

  • Ali Sherman of Mississippi State University posted:

    "I love how a bill essentially touting discrimination is written under the guise of restoring religious freedom. It would be funny if it weren't so sad. This is shameful. NO on 2681."

  • Mary Pryor Sherman posted, sarcastically:

    "Another 'proud' moment for our state. I would say 'hard to believe' but then, sadly, it isn't."

  • Lee Chambliss of the University of Southern Mississippi posted:

    "This bill is useless and a complete waste of taxpayer money. How about that separation of church and state? This bill gives someone the right to discriminate against anyone under the guise of religion. Do not let this become law."

  • Donna Napoli-Mcpherson of CSULB, Long Beach, CA posted:

    "This endorses bigotry, discrimination and hate. We're moving backwards and the people of this country need to rise."

  • Paul Ingram of Auburn University posted:

    "Great. I think I'll push for separating restaurant dining rooms by race, since that's what my religion teaches."

  • Carol Everidge of Somerset Community College posted, apparently with sincerity:

    "This is a good move for Mississippi."

    To which three visitors to the LegiScan web site responded:

    • Ardan Tylar Thornhill of the University of Southern Mississippi posted:

      "Is it, really? Would it be if a family member of yours came out as homosexual and couldn't find a place to work, live or eat? Guess they don't deserve the love of God or recognition as a human being from bigots."

    • Kristopher Medlin posted, sarcastically:

      "I totally agree with you. This is a good move for Mississippi. Hey, in fact, while we're at it why don't we also separate people by race and religious beliefs? Can't have that going on too; right? And seeing as how we are on a roll, why not just re-establish slavery? I mean the Bible is totally cool with that too! I find your lack of intelligence disturbing."

    • Anges Wilkerson Dalton posted:

      "Carol, you're not even from the south let alone Mississippi. How dare you tell us what is good for Mississippi. Many of us here continue to fight for those who are or would be discriminated against. It's views like yours that encourage the low-lifes like the 3 Georgia boys who thought it funny to place a noose around the statue of James Meridith at Ole Miss. Since they were caught and dealt with in 3 days, I think that should tell these legislators to watch how they step on others freedom. Remember, the "Freedom of Religion" clause of the Bill of Rights forbids a State run religion and gives a person the right to practice any religion they wish. It does not give them the right to turn around and inflict that religion on the rest of us who do not share their belief."

  • B.A. Robinson, the author of this essay, couldn't resist posting:

    "It is strange how so many states have passed human rights legislation to force store owners, professional photographers, etc. to treat others decently and to follow the Golden Rule that Jesus cited. Meanwhile, Mississippi -- the most religious state in the U.S. -- passed legislation to allow store owners, professional photographers, etc. to treat potential customers like sub-humans while citing their religious beliefs as a defense.

    Religious freedom to believe as one wishes, to assemble with other believers, to proselytize freely, etc. is very important, But the religious "freedom to discriminate" against others should be condemned, not encouraged." 2

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2014-APR: Pro-equality/anti-discrimination promotion by Equality Mississippi:

window sticker Mitchell Moore, who owns Campbell's Bakery in Fondren, MS, decided to respond in a positive way to Mississippi's new "Religious Freedom Restoration Act." He created this design for a window sticker that store owners who oppose discrimination can place on their store window. Hundreds of business in Mississippi are attaching the stickers in prominent places.

The Equality Mississippi Foundation will list the names of participating businesses on their web site. Foundation president Benson Hill said:

"We want to be able to reward businesses that are committed to equality. Through this program, customers will know which companies are dedicated to providing their goods and services to all, without discrimination of any kind." 3

If any other state passes a "license to discriminate" law like the one in MIssissippi, it is quite probable that similar window stickers will appear in businesses throughout their state as well.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Reid Wilson, "Mississippi passes Arizona-style religious freedom bill," Washington Post, 2014-APR-01, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
  2. "Mississippi Senate Bill 2581," LegiScan, 2014-APR-03, at: http://legiscan.com/
  3. Melanie Deas, "Promoting Equality in Business," Equality Mississippi, 2014-APR-10, at: http://www.equalitymississippi.org/

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Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Originally posted: 2014-MAR-07
Latest update: 2014-APR-25
Author: B.A. Robinson

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