A sweeping religious freedom law will take effect in Mississippi on Tuesday, Oct. 10, unless the U.S. Supreme Court blocks it before then. Gov. Phil Bryant, R-Miss., signed the bill into law in April.
The law protects public and private employees from participating in transactions they consider immoral. That includes issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, renting to LGBT people or employing an LGBT person.
Librarians could refuse to check out a book to an LGBT person and, yes, there are some straight librarians. Teachers could fail LGBT students and encourage their bullies. Stores could refuse to sell anything to anyone. It’s not about cakes.
Right-wing churches like to frame this as florists, photographers and cake bakers being forced to participate in a same-sex wedding, but the law has life and death consequences.
Paramedics, doctors and nurses would be allowed to let LGBT people die rather than treat them. Firefighters could refuse to put out a fire in a LGBT person’s home. Employers could fire people for conduct outside of work.
The Campaign for Southern Equality brought a case to block the law to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, where a three-judge panel ruled in favor of the law and the full court refused a request to rehear the case.
In this year’s Texas legislative session, a similar law was debated and died in committee.
— David Taffet