- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 5, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed House Bill 1523 Tuesday, which is meant to allow some religious groups and private businesses to refuse service to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people based on religious beliefs. Here are some highlights from reactions by supporters and opponents:

“The people of Mississippi, from every demographic, support this commonsense ‘live and let live’ bill, which simply affirms the freedom of all people to peacefully live and work according to their deeply held beliefs without threat of punishment from their own government. After all, you’re not free if your beliefs are confined to your mind. What makes America unique is our freedom to peacefully live out those beliefs, and the Constitution protects that freedom.”

- Kelly Fiedorek, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group

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“By voting ‘yes’ to the ‘Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act,’ our governor and lawmakers heard the voices of their constituents and cast their vote for our residents’ freedom of religious conscience rather than for vocal and wealthy gay activists.”

- American Family Association, conservative Christian group based in Tupelo

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“This is very narrowly written. It is focused almost exclusively on wedding ceremonies and some solemnization ceremonies. I don’t know why anyone would believe that somehow this discriminates when they could go to someone who doesn’t have this conviction and get the same service.”

- State Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, who supported the bill

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“This newly enacted law - like the draconian anti-LGBT laws in other states - uses the guise of ‘religious freedom’ to justify discrimination, mistreatment and bigotry. It’s the same sort of rationale used by white supremacists in earlier eras to justify slavery and Jim Crow. The estimated 60,000 LGBT people in Mississippi deserve better.”

- Jody Owens, managing attorney of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Jackson office

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“Gov Phil Bryant adds his name to a list of disgraced Southern governors by signing this hateful and discriminatory bill into law…. He refused to listen to Mississippians. And now his state will suffer because of his ignorance and failure of leadership.”

- Chad Griffin, president of gay rights group Human Rights Campaign

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“As the Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement, we continue to open our arms to our brothers and sisters who are adversely affected by this bill. Likewise, our arms are open to those who may be fearful and supported this legislation. New life may be found when we cast out our fear and ground our actions in the love of Christ.”

- Rev. Brian Seage, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi

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“The NCAA has already placed the state of Mississippi under a postseason ban because the state still flies a flag bearing the emblem of the confederacy. Now, the state has upped the ante and adopted a bill that has the potential of legalizing discrimination. Who knows what penalties and consequences this law will bring from the NCAA and any of a number of other governing bodies with interests in the state?”

- U.S. Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, a Bolton Democrat who represents parts of Jackson and the Mississippi Delta

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“These bills all come from the same place - opposition to LGBTQ people and equality. American public opinion is going the other way though.”

- James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT and HIV Project


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