Stop fussing about Mississippi's non-discrimination law
The left is freaking out about the Mississippi law (H.B. 1523) passed recently. Big businesses, like PayPal, are boycotting Mississippi and North Carolina. From the typical headlines, one would think that the law allows anyone to discriminate against a gay person who enters a business establishment and is refused service merely for his sexual orientation.
Not so. It actually prohibits the government from suing a person or organization that "sincerely" holds "religious beliefs or moral convictions" that "(a) Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman; (b) Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage; and (c) Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual's immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth" (Sec. 2).
In other words, a religious person can't be sued if he believes in traditional or conjugal marriage, doesn't believe in sexual relations outside marriage, and believes that males and females really are different.
Section 3, the heart of it, lays out the protection for a religious organization or religious private citizen.
First, a religious organization cannot be discriminated against if it refuses to solemnize or accommodate in a facility a same-sex marriage – not just a gay person outside the marriage context. Likewise for a business owner who holds to those convictions in Section 2 if he doesn't provide his services in the context of a marriage ceremony.
Next, the state shall not discriminate against adoption or foster agencies that hold to those religious or moral convictions. In plain terms, a foster parent can tell his foster daughter that a princess marries a prince, and Catholic adoption agencies can send children to heterosexual married couples without fear of reprisal in a court of law.
The state shall not discriminate against a citizen who refuses on those moral and religious grounds to operate on someone desiring genital reconstruction surgery, or psychological counseling, or fertility services, but the citizen should not deny a visit to the office. Thus, a counselor cannot not be sued if he believes that homosexuality is a sin and counsels reparative therapy, for example.
The state cannot sue a business or school that separates men from women in the locker room or restroom.
Finally, the state cannot bring an action against a state employee, like a county clerk or justice of the peace, who speaks his convictions – even while on duty, and he cannot be sued if he turns over his official duties to another employee in the office who doesn't hold those religious and moral convictions.
In plain language, a justice of the peace doesn't have to marry a same-sex couple, and he can tell them why without fear of a lawsuit. But the state has to be quick to offer another solution.
So the irony is that the religious person can't be discriminated against for his convictions, and the gay person has other avenues to seek his goals (e.g., marriage or flowers).
Religious freedom is an ultimate blessing for our nation.