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Mississippi Governor Signs Religious Freedom Bill


By Hunter Wallace

I’m pleasantly surprised that Mississippi, unlike Georgia and Arkansas, has chosen to jump into the fire with North Carolina on the religious freedom issue:

“Gov. Phil Bryant signed the controversial Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act into law Tuesday morning, saying he did so to protect the rights of people with “deeply held religious beliefs.”

HB 1523, authored by House Speaker Philip Gunn, has drawn state and national attention with groups as varied as the Human Rights Campaign and the Mississippi Manufacturers Association all calling for the governor to veto the bill.

Minutes after signing the bill, Bryant appeared on the JT Show on SuperTalkMS, a conservative talk radio station, to discuss the bill. He defended the bill, saying it only prevented “government from interfering with people of faith who are exercising their religious beliefs … in matters of marriage.” Bryant said it would not allow discrimination of anyone. …”

I don’t expect conservative governors to have any backbone.

Unfortunately, I fear this statute will ultimately join the ban on gay adoptions in Mississippi which was shot down by a federal court a few days ago. In Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina, we went through this a few years ago with Arizona-style immigration laws which were passed with great fanfare by state legislatures only to be gutted and rendered useless by the federal courts.

Republican-controlled state legislatures pass these kinds of face saving token gesture bills all the time – drug tests for welfare recipients is another example – in an attempt to “show they are doing something.” Everyone involved expects the federal courts to block the legislation, but state pols get to tell the folks back home in their districts “aw shucks, I tried” and cover their culture war defeats in a cloak of honor.