Two sides and two very different opinions about Senate Bill 2681, also known as the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration proposal. The bill, that passed the Senate on January 31st, would stop state and local governments from creating rules that would violate a person's religious beliefs.
"The "Mississippi Restoration of Religious Freedom Act" is nothing than a license to discriminate," says American Civil Liberties Union, Executive Director Jennifer Riley-Collins on Senate Bill 2681.
"Our law basically establishes the fact that government entity must have a compelling interest to burden a person's practice of religion," says Senator Phillip Gandy (R) who supports the bill.
Gandy and Riley-Collins have two opposing interpretations of what Senate Bill 2681 means.
"Let's just say that a government entity said the only time you could get a driver's license is on Sunday and the only place that you could get it would be Jackson. RFRA, Religious Freedom Restoration Act would give recourse to citizens to say that is an undue burden on the practice of my religion, because if you require me to do that i can not go to my church," says Gandy.
"It says that if I want to discriminate against you, and I say I don't want a white news reporter coming in to the ACLU office because that violates my religious freedoms, then you shouldn't be able to come in and I should be exempt from being discriminatory," says Riley-Collins.
Senator David Blount (D) issued this statement today on his Facebook about the bill it states, "I was not aware (nor was any other senator or interest group or citizen that I have talked to aware) of this intention or possible result when we voted on the bill on Jan. 31. I am opposed to discrimination of any kind, including discrimination based on sexual orientation. Obviously, I should have (all of us should have) been aware of this. Senate Bill 2681 is now in the Mississippi House of Representatives. Included in that bill is an amendment that would change the state seal to include the words "In God We Trust." Governor Phil Bryant says he is depending on the legislative process and that he imagines the attorneys in the house of representatives will look at the bill.