Miss. Gov. signs controversial religious freedom bill

 

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) signed a controversial religious freedom bill Thursday over the objections of opponents who say it could lead to discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Supporters say the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which passed in both state chambers, will assure practice of religion without government interference and will become law July 1, according to The Associated Press.

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An early version of the bill was similar to one passed by Arizona’s legislature earlier this year, which critics claimed would empower businesses to discriminate openly against gays and lesbians based on religious beliefs. However, it was vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R) in February, after business groups said it could hurt that state's economy.

Bryant signed the measure within hours of receiving it Thursday, during a private ceremony.

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