Mississippi Governor Phil Brynt signed the controversial religious freedom bill into law on Tuesday.
The bill authored by House Speaker Philip Gunn has attracted the attention of Human Rights campaign, Nissan North American, Tyson Foods and the Mississippi Manufacturers Association. They all urged the governor to veto the bill.
According to the legislation, HB 1523, 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, reported NPR.
On his Twitter post, Bryant said that he signed the bill “to protect sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions … from discriminatory action by (the) state government…”
I have signed House Bill 1523. Full statement: pic.twitter.com/00DbgQADFt
— Phil Bryant (@PhilBryantMS) April 5, 2016
“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,” he added.
Bryant refuted claims that the bill would enable restaurants or governments to deny normal services to LGBT community. He cited an example that restaurants will not deny services to LGBT but could deny a same-sex marriage to take place in the restaurant.
Republic State representative Andy Braxton said that the law had been misinterpreted.
He argued, “It specifically says that is a case where a person has a religious conviction, they can decline, but they must provide somebody in their office to provide that service.”
“And now his state will suffer because of his ignorance and failure of leadership. Just as we’re doing elsewhere, we will continue to rally fair-minded voters, businesses, and civil rights advocates to repeal,” Chad Griffin, the Human Rights Campaign President commented.
The Mississippi Manufacturers Association stated, “Regarding the passage of House Bill 1523, the Mississippi Manufacturers Association’s position continues to reflect the concerns manufacturers have with this bill and its potential to conflict with their policies of diversity and inclusion. However, the MMA respects the wishes of the legislature and Governor.”
ABC reported that Jennifer Pizer, law and policy project director for Lambda Legal, a national LGBT organization said that the state is at the risk of losing billions of dollars because of the bill.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal vetoed the religious freedom bill in the state.