Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed a law Tuesday allowing both public and private businesses to refuse service to gay couples based on the employers' religious beliefs. The bill is supported by conservatives and religious groups and has seen opposition from gay rights groups and other businesses.
The measure is meant to protect companies in Mississippi from having their religious beliefs violated. According to the governor, it reinforces people's freedom to exercise their religion as stated in the First Amendment. The bill allows churches, religious charities, and privately-held businesses to decline services to people whose lifestyles violate their religious beliefs. Individual government employees may opt out, but the measure says governments must still provide services.
Governor Bryant continued explaining that the bill does not limit any constitutionally protected rights or actions of any citizen of Mississippi under federal or state laws, and it is not meant to challenge current federal laws.