US: Mississippi’s largest city rejects anti-gay ‘religious freedom’ law

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Mississippi’s largest city Jackson, has rejected a “religious freedom” law which allows businesses to discriminate against LGBT people.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, bans authorities from placing a “burden” on “a person’s right to the exercise of religion”, and could be used to protect business owners who discriminate against LGBT people. It was signed into law by state Governor Phil Bryant in April.

Now, voting 3-1, the Jackson City Council has approved a resolution which reinforces the equality of its LGBT residents.

Other cities across the state, including Bay St Louis, Greenville, Hattiesburg, Magnolia, Oxford and Starkville, have also passed similar resolutions.

“It’s important for the city of Jackson to stand with other cities in the state on this issue,” said Councilman Melvin Priester Jr, who co-authored the resolution, according to The Clarion-Ledger.

“I want Jackson to look back and be able to say it was on the right side of history, especially when the Starkvilles and the cities in the north and on the coast have already adopted this.”

The resolution is not binding, but does carry a strong message of support, and officially declares Jackson’s commitment against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Hundreds of Mississippi business owners declared their support for the equal treatment of gay and lesbian customers with the “If You’re Buying, We’re Selling, campaign,  following the signing of the bill by Bryant.