Live and let live.
That was the mantra of those pushing for same-sex marriage.
Yet, that same mentality does not seem to apply to those who believe differently – certainly not to those who believe that marriage is a sacred covenant between one man and one woman. And even less to those who actually dare to live according to that belief.
That much is clear from the reception of the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, which was passed in Mississippi in 2016. This religious freedom law protects citizens from government discrimination based on their beliefs.
Even though it was a popular bill, with 63 percent of state voters supporting it, the outcry was immediate. Opponents of the law filed a lawsuit, and a federal court agreed to block the law shortly after it passed. This past summer, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled unanimously that the law should be allowed to take effect, as those challenging the law haven’t shown they have been or will be harmed by the law.
Now, the law’s opponents are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to look at the case. The attorney team – including Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys – representing Governor Phil Bryant and defending the law filed a brief with the Court this week.
What the Law Actually Does
This law protects citizens, public servants, businesses, and religious institutions from government punishment for operating publicly according to their belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.
Sounds reasonable, right? Plus, Mississippi has good reason to pass such a law.
After all, the government has targeted small business owners across the country simply because they wish to operate their businesses consistently with their beliefs on marriage. That includes:
- Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips, who declined to design a custom cake for a same-sex wedding. The Supreme Court will hear his case on December 5.
- Washington floral artist Barronelle Stutzman referred her longtime client to three other florists for his same-sex wedding because of her beliefs about marriage. Her case is pending before the Supreme Court.
- A graphic designer, two filmmakers, a custom art studio, and a photographer have challenged laws that prohibit them from declining to take on projects that express messages or celebrate events that violate their faith.
Government officials have been targeted as well: The City of Atlanta fired its fire chief, Kelvin Cochran, because he wrote a men’s devotional book in his spare time that mentions the biblical teaching that sex is reserved for marriage between a man and a woman.
“The sole purpose of this law is to ensure that Mississippians don’t live in fear of losing their careers or their businesses simply for affirming marriage as a husband-wife union,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “Those who filed suit have not and will not be harmed but want to restrict freedom and impose their beliefs on others by ensuring dissenters are left open to the government discrimination that has already occurred in states without protective laws like this one.”
The Bottom Line
This law is consistent with the “live and let live” mantra. It allows those with religious beliefs about marriage to live consistently with those beliefs. And being able to live consistently with our convictions should be a freedom we can all get behind.
But those opposing this law have made one thing clear. The goal is not to “live and let live” – it’s to silence all dissent.
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