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Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant won't let Bryan Adams get in the the way of discrimination.
In an interview with Jackson's WAPT, Bryant dismissed the opposition to House Bill 1523, the recently passed legislation that allows businesses to deny services to LGBT people based on their "sincerely held religious beliefs." The most recent critics are Tracy Morgan, who cancelled a show on Tuesday, and Adams, who announced on April 11 that he would be would be nixing an upcoming gig in the state.
"All of a sudden we have one guy from the 1980s that canceled a concert and we all want to talk about that," Bryant said.
Bryan isn't the only to take a stand against anti-LGBT legislation. Although Belinda Carlisle didn't scrap her show, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports that the former Go-Gos frontwoman condemned HB 1523 in a letter addressed to Bryant on Tuesday. Speaking as the "very proud mother of a gay child," Carlisle wrote, "I can't imagine anything less Christian than using the law as a weapon against others."
In North Carolina, Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr have pulled out of future engagements in response to House Bill 2. Passed on March 23 by Gov. Pat McCrory, the controversial legislation mandates that transgender people in the state use the restroom that does not correspond with their gender identity.
The governor said he isn't buying what these boycotts are selling. "I often wonder if people aren't taking advantage of that type of thing," he told WAPT. "You haven't been heard from in a long time, maybe you're dropping out of the entertainment business and all of a sudden you think it's a pretty good way of getting attention."
Bryant further argued that he doesn't understand the backlash to Mississippi's religious liberty law, when so many other states passed similar bills. After Indiana passed its Religious Freedom Restoration Act last year, the Indianapolis Star reported that 19 other states had identical legislation already on the books, including Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. Bryant pointed to the case of New York.
"If you'll read the bill, it deals with marriage," Byrant said. "It deals with deeply held religious beliefs. It's not going to take anyone's rights away from them. It simply says the government cannot discriminate against people of faith or religious organizations, which is the same law--if I can get anyone to look at that--that Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo signed into law in New York in 2011. He signed the same law, almost the same language. Ours is expanded to people who have deeply held religious beliefs, only in the area of marriage."
Here Bryant is referring to the 2011 decision to insert religious protections into a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in New York state. The New York Times reports that these measures were key to getting the bill passed.
"The Republicans who insisted on the provision did not only want religious organizations and affiliated groups to be protected from lawsuits if they refused to provide their buildings or services for same-sex marriage ceremonies, they also wanted them to be spared any penalties by state government," the newspaper said.
According to the Times, these allowances are "not unheard of." The Times continued, "New Hampshire, which also approved a same-sex marriage bill, included similar protections."
Critics argue, however, that House Bill 1523 goes much further than the New York exemptions.
In addition to allowing businesses to discriminate against LGBT customers, ThinkProgress reports that HB 1523 allows bosses to terminate employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill also allows companies to set "sex-specific standards or policies concerning employee or student dress or grooming," meaning that women could be fired for wearing pants in the workplace.
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