Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant
By Stephen D. Foster, Jr. / 05.13.2016
In a strong southern drawl that makes his bigotry all the more enraging, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant attempted to defend his state’s anti-LGBT law by whining about persecution of Christians, which is something that doesn’t exist.
When Bryant signed House Bill 1523 into law last month, Republicans made it legal for Christian business owners to discriminate against LGBT people as well as unmarried people who have premarital sex. Basically, as long as these bigoted business owners use religion as a shield they can discriminate against anyone they want.
But Bryant defended the law during an appearance on a religious right-wing radio show by openly whining about the so-called persecution of Christians.
According to Bryant, Christian business owners are being discriminated against when they are asked to provide service to gay people or atheists or anybody else the owner hates.
Of course, that’s NOT discrimination at all. Discrimination against a Christian would be if a Muslim business owner refused to do business with a customer simply because of their religious beliefs. Or if a gay cake baker refused to make a cake for a Christian heterosexual couple. If a customer is trying to do business with you, that’s not discrimination at all. It’s a customer making a transaction in good faith with money, which only helps the business.
Nevertheless, Bryant thinks the ACLU is unfairly suing the state because he claims the law is all about preventing imaginary discrimination against Christians and is not about discriminating against LGBT people at all.
“I mean, they cherry-pick these issues. If they had any integrity at all, they would say, ‘We understand Mississippi is actually trying to make sure that Christians and people of other faiths are not discriminated against.’ It is a nondiscriminatory law. It prevents discrimination against simply that segment of the population that has a deeply held religious view about marriage.”
Nobody is saying that bigoted Christians can’t have an opinion about marriage. But that opinion does not give them the right to refuse service to a gay couple.
Despite the fact that Republicans in Mississippi and North Carolina have given business owners a license to bully LGBT people, Bryant complained about alleged bullying and threats from corporations and repeated the conservative myth that transgender protections will allow men to shower in women’s locker rooms and use women’s bathrooms.
“We’re criticized, we’re threatened, we’re bullied, we’re told by corporations that we’re doing the wrong thing?” Bryant said. “Where on earth have we come to simply say, ‘I do not wish my daughter in her school or in her university to have to have a male in the shower and in the dressing room and in the restrooms.’”
The fact is that in 17 states and over 200 cities that have passed transgender protections there has not been a single instance of a predator using the protections as a defense to commit sexual assault. The only men who gone inside women’s bathrooms are the ones the conservative Family Research Council has sent into them in order to scare people into supporting the bigoted laws.
Bryant concluded by claiming that Americans support the laws and that they are “common sense” laws.
“I think the rest of the nation is beginning to wake up and say, ‘What world do they think we’re living in? This is not Hollywood, this is not more liberal areas, this is America, where common sense still prevails.’”
True common sense is knowing what real discrimination and persecution looks like. And that means Bryant has no clue what the hell he is talking about. These anti-LGBT laws legalize bigotry against a certain group of people under the guise of religious freedom, a freedom that conservatives have abused for too long. And considering the outrage against bigoted states like North Carolina and Mississippi since they passed their bigoted laws, it looks like most Americans damn well have common sense. The common sense to know what hate, discrimination, and bullshit looks like when they see it, or in this case, hear it.