Mississippi governor signs controversial religious freedom law
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Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) on Tuesday signed into law a controversial religious freedom bill that allows businesses to deny service to gay couples based on the owners' beliefs.
 
The law comes after a similarly contentious anti-transgender measure was passed in North Carolina, and after bills decried as anti-LGBT were rejected in South Dakota and Georgia.
 
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"I am singing HB 1523 into law to protect sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions of individuals, organizations and private associations from discriminatory action by state government or its political subdivisions, which would include counties, cities and institutions of higher learning," the governor said in a statement he posted on Twitter.
 
The law allows employees of the state to not issue same-sex marraige licenses, NPR reported, though Bryant said in his statement that it doesn't "limit any constitutionally protected rights or actions of any citizen of this state under federal or state laws."
 
The law has already received negative attention from groups including the Human Rights Campaign and the Mississippi Manufacturers Association, which called for the governor to veto the bill.
 
After singing the law, Bryant said on a talk radio show that the bill doesn't "create one action against any class or group of people," according to The Clarion-Ledger.
 
"It does not attempt to challenge federal laws, even those which are in conflict with the Mississippi Constitution, as the Legislature recognizes the prominence of federal law in such limited circumstances," his statement said.
 
The law reportedly goes into effect July 1.
 
Businesses have bashed a controversial North Carolina law signed last month that prohibits people from using bathrooms that don't match their biological sex and bans municipalities from creating their own anti-discrimination policies.