Mississippi gov. signs law allowing service denial to gays

FILE - In this June 23, 2015, file photograph, the state flag of Mississippi is unfurled against the front of the Governor's Mansion in Jackson, Miss. Jimmy Buffet, John Grisham, Morgan Freeman and former New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning are among many famous current and former Mississippi residents asking the state to remove the Confederate battle emblem from its flag. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

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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