Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed a religious freedom bill on Tuesday which would allow religious organizations, private companies and some state employees to deny service to members of the LGBT community.
The bill, "Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act," or HB 1523, has been widely criticized as targeting the LGBT community in way other religious freedom bills have not. The religious and moral beliefs specifically protected under this legislation are as follows:
(a) Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman;
(b) Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage; and
(c) Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual's immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.
The announcement came at 12:21 p.m. Eastern via a post from Bryant's Twitter account. "I am signing HB 1523 into law to protect sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions," a screenshot of his statement read. "This bill merely reinforces the rights which currently exist to the exercise of religious freedom as stated in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution."
While this bill is invariably a blow to LGBT rights, there is already no protection under federal law from being discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation or gender expression when it comes to housing or employment, meaning the civil rights fight extends far beyond Mississippi state boundaries.