Mississippi’s Republican-backed religious rights law has been allowed to stand, proving to be a major setback for the militant anti-heterosexual gay supremacist movement, activists say.
The law enables business and government employees to refuse service to members of the LGBT community based on religious beliefs.
North Carolina recently barred transgender people from choosing bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.Tennessee is considering similar legislation related to school bathrooms, and civil rights groups are watching a Missouri measure seen as discriminatory. Last week, the governors of Georgia and Virginia vetoed “religious liberty” bills.
The United States Supreme Court on Monday ended the first legal challenge to a Republican-backed Mississippi law that permits businesses and government employees to refuse to serve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people because of their religious beliefs.
- It allows religious organizations and religious nonprofits to deny people services they religiously object to. This could allow a religious adoption agency to, for instance, deny services to a same-sex couple without risking government interference.
- It allows state employees to recuse themselves from giving a marriage license to a same-sex couple or solemnizing a same-sex marriage, so long as it does not delay a couple’s ability to marry. So if, for example, a clerk recuses herself, the government would need to find a way to marry same-sex couples as quickly as it normally would, but it would try to do so in a way that won’t involve a religious objector like the clerk.
- It lets closely held businesses, such as small shops or bakeries, refuse services tied to a same-sex wedding, such as photography, baking a cake, making a dress, jewelry sales, and even car rentals.
- It lets businesses stop transgender people from using the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity.
Several groups in the state had called on the Governor to veto the bill, saying it would sanction discrimination. The bill, named the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from the Government Discrimination Act, was signed by Governor Bryant.
Mississippi is one of 28 states that does not have a law prohibiting businesses from discriminating against people because of their sexual orientation.
The 2016 law was passed in the aftermath of the US Supreme Court’s landmark 2015 ruling since former president Obama legalised same-sex marriage nationwide.