Republican Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi made national headlines when he signed the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act, an act that many consider to be anti-gay. Although many citizens and activists have already criticized the governor, now MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry has weighed in and critiqued Bryant as well.
As previously reported, the bill says that the state cannot infringe on people’s rights to practice their religion. However, as critics of the act have noted, the bill is vaguely worded and allows for individuals or businesses to discriminate against LGBT people, or anyone outside of their religion, based on their own religious beliefs.
A similar bill was brought up Arizona earlier this year and was vetoed by Arizona’s Republican governor, Jan Brewer, after numerous activists, major corporations, constituents, and even fellow Republicans all argued against the bill, saying it would hurt the state’s economy due to discrimination issues.
On Saturday, Harris-Perry devoted a segment of her show to discussing the act and slammed Bryant for signing the bill into law.
“What you did was to make it even easier than it already was to discriminate against LGBT Mississippians, to deny them services available to everyone else,” said Harris-Perry, who also noted that Mississippi doesn’t have any laws that specifically protect the LGBT community or even allow them to marry. “Basically, you gave bigots another avenue to dehumanize their LGBT neighbors.”
Harris-Perry’s critique is based on the fact that people historically have a tendency to bend vaguely written laws to their own will and benefit. This bill will likely be abused at some point and people’s freedoms may be robbed of them by businesses just because they don’t follow or share the same religious beliefs. – nicholas robinson