Freedom Summer has just been commemorated here in Jackson, Mississippi. 50 years later, we are still fighting for civil rights here.
For younger people who may not know what 'Freedom Summer' was, the blockquote below is from their website: http://freedom50.org
In the summer of 1964, hundreds of summer volunteers from across America convened in Mississippi to put an end to the system of rigid segregation. The civil rights workers and the summer volunteers successfully challenged the denial by the state of Mississippi to keep Blacks from voting, getting a decent education, and holding elected offices.
50 years later, Mississippi's right wing has come up with a new wrinkle to deny people their rights: a religious justification for discriminating against anyone they want for any reason they want. A store owner can now discriminate against you in Mississippi if you're African-American, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, disabled, not a Christian, gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender, a woman, or for any other reason he or she decides on the spur of the moment is reason enough to deny you goods or services.
Nice, huh? The business owner now has carte blanche to discriminate against anyone for any reason!. It's his/her religion! The business owner can always find a passage in the Bible (the only religion which counts down here for lawmakers) which says it's perfectly okay.
The religionists in Mississippi, led by Tea Party / Republican governor Phil Bryant pushed this law through calling it the 'Religious Freedom Restoration Act'.
As the song goes - 'Jesus died to save our sins...glory to God we're gonna need him again' - this time for another Freedom Summer for Civil Rights, just for different civil rights than were being suppressed in 1964.
Some more information on SB2681 - in this case from the Hell No on 26 and 27 Facebook Page:
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act SB 2681 goes into effect July 1st, 2014. Though masked in the cloak of religious freedom, this law is an open license for any business, if they chose to do so, to discriminate against any individual that does not meet their criteria. Thus, gender, disabilities, race, sexual preference, Atheism and other non Christian beliefs,...can be the basis for refusing you service. All under the guise of religious freedom, this is now legal! Hell No! on Mississippi 26 and 27 invites you to join us and tell Governor Bryant that this law is unconstitutional and the citizens of Mississippi will not accept it. We say Hell No, 2681 has got to go!
How can Mississippi have come to the point that at least one national website is warning its site visitors not to travel here?
It's simple: the religionists were losing the battle to suppress without a law saying they could. Now they have one.
However...there are still good people here who have no interest in discrimination.
A few references:
Well, we'll have to see how stupid Mississippi business owners actually are if they decide to discriminate citing this act, but this is what it permits:
From the bill itself: Mississippi SB2681
c) "Exercise of religion" means the practice or observance of religion. "Exercise of religion" includes, but is not limited to, the ability to act or the refusal to act in a manner that is substantially motivated by one's sincerely held religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.
(d) "State action" means the implementation or application of any law, including, but not limited to, state and local laws, ordinances, rules, regulations and policies, whether statutory or otherwise, or any other action by the state, a political subdivision of the state, an instrumentality of the state or political subdivision of the state, or a public official that is authorized by law in the state.
(3) (a) State action or an action by any person based on state action shall not burden a person's right to exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless it is demonstrated that applying the burden to that person's exercise of religion in that particular instance is both of the following:
(i) Essential to further a compelling governmental interest;
(ii) The least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
(b) A person whose exercise of religion has been burdened or is likely to be burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding, regardless of whether the state or a political subdivision of the state is a party to the proceeding. The person asserting that claim or defense may obtain appropriate relief, including relief against the state or a political subdivision of the state. Appropriate relief includes, but is not limited to, injunctive relief, declaratory relief, compensatory damages, and the recovery of costs and reasonable attorney's fees.
From Rethink Mississippi
That means businesses in Mississippi can discriminate against LGBTQ citizens in the same manner that they say “no shirt, no shoes, no service.” The shirtless don’t have legal protection from discrimination in Mississippi, and neither do gay, lesbian, or trans individuals. Unless employers have a private non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation, LGBTQ employees can be fired at will.
And here's more: 2 stories from Buzzfeed articles:
Don't forget to stop by the If You're Buying, We're Selling website.
I mean really, Mississippi - what the hell were you thinking?