Video: Attorney Says ‘Religious Freedom Bill’ Not Necessary Because Of Laws Already On Books

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TUPELO, MISS. (WCBI) – Reaction was swift after the Mississippi Senate passed HB 1523, known as the
“Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act.”

That bill allows businesses the right to deny service to members of the
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender community, based on religious beliefs.

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It also addresses circuit clerks who don’t want to issue same sex licenses. Circuit clerks can refuse to issue the licenses under their name, but they must make accommodations for someone in their office to issue them.

Bob Spencer is the lay pastor for the Tupelo Unitarian Universalist
congregation . He is disappointed with those who support the bill.

“It’s time that sensible Christians begin practicing instead of preaching so
much. Talk to your politicans, and tell them, come on, this is the United
States of America, we really do believe in equality , equal rights for all
people,” Spencer said.

Lee Duncan owns “Duncan Signs”. He makes no secret of the fact that he is a
Christian, who runs his business according to Biblical principles. That
has meant Duncan has turned down some jobs.

“It has been several years ago, I had a call and I don’t know if they were
actually interested in putting a business like that in town but it was a
strip club he said and I said, sir, I’m sorry but my faith won’t allow me to
do that type of work,” Duncan said.

Tupelo Attorney Jim Waide says businessmen like Duncan, have always had the
right to refuse to do business with anyone, under laws that are already on
the books.

“We already have freedom of contract in the United States, that’s a basic
constitutional right, that you can enter a contract with whomever you want
to enter a contract with, legislature can pass laws until they are blue in
the face and that’s not going to change that fundamental constitutional
right. So the right of people to refuse service to a person if they want to
, on the grounds they are gay, already exists,” Waide said.

And because of the freedom of contract law, Waide says it would be tough for
anyone to take a business or religious group to court, with a discrimination
claim.

The bill now goes to the House, then it will go to Governor Phil Bryant for
his signature.