Last night in Mississippi, state lawmakers approved a tweaked version of the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which is not quite as bad as the one vetoed recently by Jan Brewer in Arizona, but still has civil-rights groups worried. Religious organizations like the Family Research Center, an opponent of “the vigorous efforts of homosexual activists to demand that homosexuality be accepted as equivalent to heterosexuality in law, in the media, and in schools” just happen to love it.
Ostensibly, the bill protects religious freedoms by assuring “state and local governments cannot put a substantial burden on religious practices” and allowing them to sue if those rights are infringed upon, but there is nothing included to prevent it from being used against homosexuality on religious grounds. “We remain hopeful that courts throughout the state will reject any attempts to use religion to justify discrimination,” said the local ACLU. “Nobody should be refused service because of who they are.”
“This is a victory for the First Amendment and the right to live and work according to one’s conscience,” countered Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, in a statement. “The legislature gave strong approval to a bill that declares that individuals do not have to trade their religious freedom for entrance into public commerce.”
“The language still exposes virtually every branch, office, and agency of the government to litigation, which will require taxpayer funds to defend,” added another ACLU rep.
The bill, which Governor Phil Bryant has signaled he will sign into law, also adds “In God We Trust” to the state seal.