While the title of this article could be used to describe the current Republican front runners for the Presidential nomination it sadly does not. Instead it is meant to describe Governor Phil Bryant who today signed into law Mississippi HB 1523. It is a bill which allows businesses in their state to deny services to Gay, Lesbian and Transgender people. They masked this latest form of bigotry under the guise of a Religious Freedom Act.
After signing the bill, the Governor went on a local conservative talk show and explained it like this, “It prevents the “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. So basically if you are a Gay, Lesbian or Transgender couple you can be refused service. Sounds like discrimination to me.
I guess “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that ALL MEN are created EQUAL, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” are just too many words for those narrow minded bigots in the Mississippi Senate to actually understand what those words mean, You can’t have FREEDOM for ONE if you don’t have FREEDOM for ALL.
Religious freedom’s ONLY guarantee is that Americans have the right to worship the religion they chose in their house of worship and in the privacy of their homes. When dealing with the public their religious beliefs do not trump any of the other freedoms guaranteed to all by The Constitution. The First Amendment clearly states,
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”
According to “The Legal Information Institute” the First Amendment Establishment Clause “prohibits the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion.” This clause not only forbids the government from establishing an official religion, but also prohibits government actions that unduly favor one religion over another. It also prohibits the government from unduly preferring religion over non-religion, or non-religion over religion.”
Reaction to this sad and pathetic attempt to trample on Americans civil liberties was quick. The head of The Human Rights Campaign Chad Griffin said in a statement, “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 it.”
A spokesman from Nissan said, “It is Nissan’s policy to prohibit discrimination of any type, and we oppose any legislation that would allow discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals,”
Jennifer Riley-Collins Executive Director of The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi said:
“This is a sad day for the state of Mississippi and for the thousands of Mississippians who can now be turned away from businesses, refused marriage licenses, or denied housing, essential services and needed care based on who they are. This bill flies in the face of the basic American principles of fairness, justice and equality and will not protect anyone’s religious liberty. Far from protecting anyone from ‘government discrimination’ as the bill claims, it is an attack on the citizens of our state, and it will serve as the Magnolia State’s badge of shame.”
Managing attorney of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Jody Owens, called the decision “unconscionable.”
“This newly enacted law – like the draconian anti-LGBT laws in other states – uses the guise of ‘religious freedom’ to justify discrimination, mistreatment and bigotry. It’s the same sort of rationale used by white supremacists in earlier eras to justify slavery and Jim Crow,”
Mississippi Democratic Party spokeswoman Ouida Meruvia said, “Instead of tearing down walls that divide, the Republican Party has spent this session building new barriers of bigotry. We must do better.”
And you know she is right. At a time when the Republican Party is tearing itself apart from within, things like this just put another nail in the coffin. If this keeps up much longer it won’t matter who we nominate to run for President the Democrats will sweep the White House rug right out from under our feet. We must all unify against this kind of ignorant, narrow minded bigotry and let the world know there is no place for this kind of behavior anywhere in the United States. Not now …not ever.