Anderson: Mississippi Moves to Protect Religious Freedom on Marriage

By Ryan T. Anderson, The Daily Signal, April 1, 2016

This morning, the Mississippi House passed a bill, HB 1523, protecting religious freedom. If the House disposes of a procedural maneuver that has delayed a final vote until Monday, the bill will go to the governor’s desk for his signature, as the Senate passed the bill earlier this week. The bill is good policy and the governor should sign it.

HB 1523, “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act,” is based on the principle of protecting minority rights after major social change. In other states where marriage had been redefined, citizens and religious organizations who continued believing that marriage was a union of husband and wife have been penalized by the government. Bakers and florists have been fined, adoption agencies shuttered. So the citizens of Mississippi have acted to make sure it never happens in their state. In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage, they’re working to protect their civil liberties.

It’s what Americans did after Roe v. Wade, too. Congress and the states have passed a variety of laws that protect pro-life conscience. In Roe v. Wade the Supreme Court invented a right to an abortion. But after Roe legislatures made clear that government cannot require a pro-life doctor or nurse to perform an abortion—that they, too, had rights that required specific protections from hostile judges and bureaucrats.

Likewise, in the Obergefell decision, the Supreme Court redefined marriage throughout America by mandating that governmental entities treat same-sex relationships as marriages. The Supreme Court did not say that private schools, charities, businesses, or individuals must abandon their beliefs if they disagree, but some governments are acting as if it did.

That’s what HB 1523 would prevent. It protects the freedom of conscience for people who believe any of the following three things: 1) that marriage is the union of husband and wife, 2) that sexual relations are reserved for marriage, and 3) that our gender identity is based on our biology. It doesn’t say anyone has to believe these things, it just says that if someone does believe them, the government can’t discriminate against them. So the bill takes nothing away from anyone, it simply protects pluralism.

>>>> For More on This, See Ryan T. Anderson’s New Book, “Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom.”

HB 1523 specifies types of people and types of organizations for particular protections—including religious organizations, medical professionals and professionals working in the wedding industry, and government employees. It crafts careful protections for each type of entity.

For example, HB 1523 says that the government can never discriminate against a religious organization because it declines to solemnize or celebrate a same-sex wedding, or because it makes employment decisions in keeping with their religious beliefs about marriage. It prevents the government from discriminating against religious organizations that do adoption or foster care work in keeping with their religious beliefs about marriage as the union of husband and wife.

When it comes to professionals, HB 1523 says that the government can never discriminate against a surgeon, psychiatrist or counselor because they decline to do sex-reassignment surgery or decline to do marriage counseling for a same-sex marriage. The bill makes clear, however, that it cannot be used to deny visitation or proxy decision making to a same-sex spouse, nor to deny any emergency medical treatment required by law. Likewise, under HB 1523 the government could never penalize a photographer, baker or florist who declined to help celebrate a same-sex wedding.

As for government employees, HB 1523 strikes a reasonable balance. It says that the government cannot discriminate against employees for speech or conduct they engage in in their personal capacity outside of their job responsibilities when it comes to these three beliefs.

Inside of work, it says the government can’t signal out these viewpoints for particular sanction—that employees must abide by common “time, place, and manner” regulations, but no content restrictions on speech at work. It also says that a government employee may seek a recusal from issuing marriage licenses, provided they do it ahead of time and in writing, and provided they “take all necessary steps to ensure that the authorization and licensing of any legally valid marriage is not impeded or delayed.” A commonsense win-win outcome.

Finally, the bill makes clear that the government cannot take any adverse action against any organization that makes access to sex-specific facilities such as bathrooms and locker rooms based on biological sex.

Hopefully we will not see a repeat of Indiana and Georgia in Mississippi. Big business and special interests should not attack the state or this bill.

When the bill reaches his desk, the governor should sign it into law, and other states should follow Mississippi’s lead.

Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D., researches and writes about marriage and religious liberty as the William E. Simon senior research fellow in American Principles and Public Policy at The Heritage Foundation. He also focuses on justice and moral principles in economic thought, health care and education, and has expertise in bioethics and natural law theory. He’s the author of the just-released book, Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Liberty.”

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Comments

  1. I wonder if those who regarded adoption of children by gay couples merely an LGBT rights issue —Do they know what the psychological obsessions of ephebophilia and hebephilia are?
    Are gay males being given children of these age groups screened for this psychological disorder?
    Best Answer from Yahoo site
    :”Pedophilia is the sexual attraction to prepubescent children. This means children who are so young they have not hit puberty yet, and have no body hair, breasts, have high voices, and mostly undifferentiated body shape. It is considered a mental illness.

    Hebephilia is the attraction to children who are in the midst of puberty, and ephebophilia is the attraction to people in late puberty. They are not considered mental illnesses at this time.

    Keep in mind that puberty is variable between kids. So attaching a hard chronological age is difficult to do without creating confusion or controversy. But generally speaking, when pressed for ages though, common estimates are that pedophilia is attraction to under 12 years old, hebephilia is attraction to 11-14, and ephebophilia 14-19.

    The causes of these, as behaviors, are different as well. With pedophilia, there is increasing evidence that something is biologically wrong with their brains. Most pedophiles have had head injuries when they were young, and MRIs of their brains show some abnormalities. Hebephiles seem to be a less severe form of this. But also hebephiles and ephebophiles (which overlap somewhat) it is less certain, though some argue they are not attracted to people because they are physically young (since by age 15 most females have adult physical attributes) but rather because they are mentally vulnerable to being exploited. Teenagers have unique neurological processes at work that make them extremely vulnerable to having their emotions manipulated, and an older adult person also frequently has status over them (i.e. they have their own place to live, are finished with school, and have their own income).”

  2. I’m disappointed to see that MCD is promoting a bill that passed the Mississippi Legislature which does not represent true Conservative values–a piece of legislation which is anti-republican, divisive, and sectarian in nature. Freedom of religion is a cornerstone in our country. However, especially in the context of the marketplace of economic commerce, sectarian beliefs should never be allowed to be a legitimate reason to maintain the denial of equal protection under the law to all persons in America.

  3. Douglas says:

    This bill is absolutely necessary to protect Christians,(and let’s be honest Christians are the only ones being told to put aside their faith to accommodate), from the differing in some odd way from what is usual or normal agenda which is not only to accommodate their lifestyle but to legitimize it and participate in it at all cost.

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