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Protests planned against Mississippi’s religious freedom bill

Governor’s university speech to be target of low-key opposition

When Governor Phil Bryant speaks at the University of Mississippi’s graduation ceremony May 10, he’ll likely face an audience wearing rainbow-coloured stickers signalling opposition to a religious freedom bill he signed recently. Credit: bilerico.com

When Governor Phil Bryant speaks at the University of Mississippi’s graduation ceremony May 10, he’ll likely face an audience wearing rainbow-coloured stickers signalling opposition to a religious freedom bill he signed recently.

Dubbed the “Turn Away the Gays” bill, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which allows businesses and individuals to refuse services on religious grounds, would effectively permit discrimination against LGBT people, its opponents contend.

According to an Associated Press (AP) report, University of Mississippi graduate student Kevin Cozart says he’s received a great response to the lapel stickers — featuring a rainbow-striped map of Mississippi accompanied by the words of the university’s creed about respect for all — and has given out more than 350 of them, including to some of the school’s administrators.

Another protest, involving chefs from Mississippi and elsewhere, is expected to take place June 13 at a private dinner club in New York. The Big Gay Mississippi Welcome Table is being held to show that the state is about acceptance and inclusion, one restaurateur told AP. Dinner proceeds are earmarked for Pride networks at two Mississippi universities.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act states, in part, that government “should not substantially burden religious exercise without compelling justification.” The measure also seeks to “provide a claim or defense to persons whose religious exercise is substantially burdened by government.”

Following the law’s enactment, hundreds of businesses in the state posted stickers that read “We don’t discriminate” in support of the principle of equality.