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By Stephen D. Foster, Jr. / 04.07.2016
When Mississippi Republicans passed a discriminatory anti-LGBT law, the last thing they expected was backlash from Christians.
But that’s exactly what is happening.
House Bill 1523 or the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act,” as Republicans have named it, allows open discrimination by people who claim to have sincerely held religious beliefs against the LGBT community.
According to ABC News , the new law does allows the following:
– Decline to “solemnize any marriage” or provide wedding-related services based on their religious beliefs or moral convictions. Those services run a full gamut, from wedding planning, photography, disc-jockey services and floral arrangements to cakes, venues and limos.
– Decide “whether or not to hire, terminate or discipline an individual whose conduct or religious beliefs are inconsistent” with their beliefs or moral convictions.
– Decide to whom they will sell or rent housing they control based on their religious beliefs or moral convictions.
– Adoptive or foster parents can raise a child they’ve been granted custody of by the state with the same beliefs and convictions of those protected by the law.
– Medical and therapy professionals can decline “treatments, counseling, or surgeries related to sex reassignment or gender identity transitioning” and “psychological, counseling, or fertility services” to people whose lifestyles violate their religious beliefs.
– People can create “sex-specific standards or policies concerning employee or student dress or grooming, or concerning access to restrooms, spas, baths, showers, dressing rooms, locker rooms or other intimate facilities or settings.”
– State employees and those acting on behalf of the state may recuse themselves from authorizing or licensing legal marriages, although they may not stand in the way of others doing so.
In short, religious bigots can hide behind their bibles and exercise their hatred by denying services to LGBT people or anyone else whom they disagree with, even couples who have pre-marital sex and interracial couples .
The law has been roundly condemned across the state and the nation ever since Governor Phil Bryant signed it, with area businesses and national corporations voicing overwhelming opposition.
And at least one Christian business owner is adding to the backlash.
Mitchell Moore is a Republican who owns Campbell’s Bakery located in the state capital of Jackson, Mississippi, and during an interview with NPR , Moore ripped GOP lawmakers a new one for passing a stupid law that has nothing to do with Christian values.
“I am here to bake cakes and to sell those cakes,” Moore declared. “I’m not here to decide arbitrarily who deserves my cake and who doesn’t. That’s not what I do. That’s not my job.”
Moore then went on to lambaste Republicans for focusing on a non-existent problem while ignoring the real problems Mississippi faces.
“So leaving aside the stupidity of passing it because it decriminalizes discrimination – which, that really is kind of the biggest issue – but I can actually say I think the law of unintended consequences is going to come back to bite the people who signed this bill. If it is my sincerely held religious belief that I shouldn’t serve them, then I can do that. And I can hide behind that language. But that language is so vague it opens a Pandora’s box. And you can’t shut it again. There is no sincerely held religious belief to think that I am better than other people – to think that my sin is different than other people. And so I am a deeply Christian man, and those go counter to my belief system.
The assumption that they think that they’re looking out for us – that’s not what they are doing. We rank number one – our state government is the most dependent on federal money. We are the third most obese state. We rank at the bottom in unemployment, in education. We’ve got crumbling infrastructure. None of them are being tackled. Instead, we are passing, hey-let’s-discriminate bills.”