New Mississippi law allows service denial to gays

In this photo taken June 23, 2015, the Mississippi state flag is unfurled against the front of the Governor's Mansion in Jackson, Miss. A new proposal seeks a statewide election on removing the Confederate battle emblem from the Mississippi flag. But it could be years before the issue gets on the ballot, and there's no guarantee voters would accept it.(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Mississippi’s governor has signed a law that allows public and private businesses to refuse service to gay couples based on the employers’ religious beliefs.

Gov. Phil Bryant signed House Bill 1523 on Tuesday, despite opposition from gay-rights groups and some businesses. Some conservative and religious groups support the bill.

The measure’s intention is to protect those who believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman, that sexual relations should only take place inside such marriages, and that male and female genders are unchangeable.

The law allows churches, religious charities and privately held businesses to decline services to people violating those beliefs. Individual government employees may also opt out, although the measure says governments must still provide services.

Other states have considered similar legislation.

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