FRC’s Tony Perkins Takes Victory Lap At Passage of Miss. Discrimination Bill
On Tuesday, an "Arizona-style" religious protections bill that will legalize discrimination and allow businesses to refuse service based upon "sincerely held religious beliefs," passed both houses of the Mississippi legislature. The bill, title the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) is now sitting on Republican Governor Phil Bryant's desk where it is expected to be signed.
A statement released by the Human Rights Campaign Tuesday warns that if passed, the law could:
Undermine future state and local non-discrimination laws protecting LGBT individuals.
Interfere with licensing organizations that have professional regulations protecting LGBT individuals.
Undermine public university non-discrimination policies that include classes of people who lack federal protections.
Allow pharmacists to refuse to provide HIV and hormone replacement therapy drugs.
Permit restaurants, inns/hotels to potentially turn away same-sex couples celebrating an anniversary, adoption or pregnancy.
Permit wedding garment shops, bakeries, photo studios, and reception halls to close their doors to same-sex couples planning their weddings.
Buzzfeed reports that the Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, said in a statement Tuesday morning. "Senate Bill 2681 would promote discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals and families in Mississippi. As a minister, it's clear that this extreme bill is about legalizing discrimination, not protecting religious freedom. Furthermore, the broad implications of this bill could result in discrimination aimed toward many communities."
Tony Perkins of the SPLC designated hate group Family Research Council took no time celebrating with an e-victory lap. In his daily e-blast, Perkins said:
"This is a victory for the First Amendment and the right to live and work according to one's conscience. This commonsense measure was a no-brainer for freedom, and like the federal, it simply bars government discrimination against religious exercise. 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.
"I commend Mississippi legislators for reading the bill and consulting the facts and not yielding to the wild distortions of the frenzied opposition of anti-religious liberty activists who caused other elected officials to retreat in recent weeks. "
Deep South Progressive reports that Sen. Phillip Gandy, one of the bill's authors, called the opposition to SB 2681 "intolerant." He then pointed to the 2012 boycott of Chik-Fil-A as an example of that intolerance. Gay rights organizations mounted a boycott of the fast-food chain in 2012 after it was revealed that Chik-Fil-A was donating to anti-gay groups, including anti-gay groups that were pushing for a law in Uganda that would've instituted the death penalty for gay people.