Mississippi Passes Law That Could Open Door to Discrimination

April 02, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 1, 2014

CONTACT:
Robyn Shepherd, ACLU national, 212-519-7829 or 549-2666; media@aclu.org
Morgan Miller, ACLU of Mississippi 601-354-3408; mmiller@aclu-ms.org

JACKSON, Miss – The Mississippi legislature passed a controversial law today that could open the door to discrimination against any group based on religious objections. If Governor Phil Bryant signs, the law will go into effect on July 1, 2014.

“We remain hopeful that courts throughout the state will reject any attempts to use religion to justify discrimination,” said Jennifer Riley-Collins, executive director of the ACLU of Mississippi. “Nobody should be refused service because of who they are.”

The law could allow individuals and businesses to bring challenges against what they view as substantial government burdens against religion, including challenging existing nondiscrimination laws. Legislatures across the country, including in Georgia, Idaho, Maine, and Ohio, have rejected similar measures. On February 26, 2014, Governor Jan Brewer vetoed Arizona’s version. Bills are still pending in Missouri and Oklahoma.

“Even though the Mississippi legislature removed some of the egregious language from Arizona’s infamous SB 1062, we are disappointed that it passed this unnecessary law and ignored the national, public outcry against laws of this nature,” said Eunice Rho, advocacy and policy counsel with the ACLU. “We will continue to fight in state legislatures across the country to ensure that religious freedom remains a shield, not a sword.”