Despite 'Religious Freedom' Law, Miss. Businesses Promise 'We Don't Discriminate'

Responding to Mississippi's passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, businesses statewide are standing up for equality and pledging not to discriminate against anyone who wants to purchase goods

BY Sunnivie Brydum

April 14 2014 3:36 PM ET

More than 30 Mississippi businesses are teaming up to combat the state's newly enacted "religious freedom" law, which gives businesses the right to deny service to LGBT people or anyone else who contradicts an owner's religious beliefs. 

The new campaign, called "If You're Buying, We're Selling," stresses that all are welcome at business displaying the campaign's logo, a blue circular sticker with the words "We Don't Discriminate" and "If You're Buying, We're Selling," separated by with a rainbow banner. The Clarion Ledger reports that the campaign launched last week in the Fondren neighborhood of Jackson but quickly spread to include entrepreneurs statewide. 

Organizers behind the campaign are forthright about their opposition to the recently passed "license to discriminate" legislation, known as Senate Bill 2681. The stickers are being produced by statewide LGBT organization Equality Mississippi, which has already printed 500 displays for businesses throughout the state. 

"We want to be able to reward businesses that are committed to equality," said Equality Mississippi Foundation president Benson Hill in a statement. "Through this program, customers will know which companies are dedicated to providing their goods and services to all, without discrimination of any kind."

Although SB 2681, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, doesn't explicitly mention sexual orientation or gender identity, opponents contend that the law allows businesses to deny service to anyone who supposedly contradicts the business owner's sincerely held religious belief — a none-too-subtle effort to legalize discrimination against LGBT people and other minorities under the guise of "religious freedom." 

As signed into law earlier this month by Gov. Phil Bryant, the legislation allows businesses and individuals to deny services to anyone, if serving that person or organization would "substantially burden" the individual's "religious exercise." It also adds the words "In God We Trust" to the official state seal. It received overwhelming support in the Republican-controlled legislature before earning the governor's signature April 3

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