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Mississippi governor signs bill allowing businesses to deny service to gay couples

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Posted at 11:03 AM, Apr 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-05 13:34:14-04

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed the state’s religious freedom bill Tuesday, according to a statement from his Twitter account.

Watchdog groups have decried the bill as discriminatory against the LGBT community, while proponents say it’s intended only to protect those with strongly held religious beliefs.

Bryant said he signed the bill into law “to protect sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions of individuals, organizations and private associations from discriminatory action by state government.”

The bill does not challenge federal law — “even those which are in conflict with the Mississippi Constitution” — and reinforces First Amendment rights, the governor’s statement said.

“The legislation is designed in the most targeted manner possible to prevent government interference in the lives of the people from which all power to the state is derived,” it said.

The ACLU of Mississippi promptly responded, tweeting that Bryant “just made discrimination a part of state law.”

“Welcome to Mississippi, the hospitality state that says you’re okay only if you’re straight and married!” read another tweet, incorporating the hashtag “#ShameOnPhil.”