Maybe things are not so completely awful in deep red states as we are inclined to think. Perhaps change is slowly coming about.
A 600-word provision signed into law by Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant last month will soon prevent the state from "substantially burden[ing]" people's religious freedom unless there's a "compelling justification." The brief legislation mentions the "framers of the Constitution" and decades-old court cases while remaining, at least on the surface, rather vague as to its purpose. The law doesn't mention any specific religions or describe any burdens - as if Mississippi had just reminded everyone that the First Amendment was a pretty good idea.
But the new law, which takes effect in July, has ignited a political firestorm over the belief that its broad wording allows businesses to turn away gay and lesbian customers.
"The bill will ensure that Mississippi business owners, such as photographers and wedding cake bakers, can refuse to serve homosexuals if they feel that doing so would violate their religious beliefs and moral convictions," explained the John Birch Society's New American in an article applauding the law.
In response, some Mississippi business owners have started an opposition campaign under the slogan, "If You're Buying, We're Selling." The campaign has already sold over 3,000 "We don't discriminate" stickers that shop owners can place in their windows, and the stickers have spread as far Oregon, Tennessee and Texas. In New York, chefs are even protesting an upcoming Mississippi-themed catfish event in Central Park.