Simmons does not support senate bill
by Paisley Boston
Feb 28, 2014 | 2291 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Racial discrimination once trampled the streets of many states.

Recently there has been an entirely different type of discrimination pertaining to sexual orientation and lawmakers have been "on the fence" about their role on the issue.

Mississippi ‘s Religious Freedom Restoration Act is similar to bills being offered in legislatures across the nation that opponents say would allow discrimination against gay people and others.

State Sen. Willie Simmons said he does not agree with the bill and he refused to support it.

"I hope lawmakers have enough sense not to pass this ridiculous bill and I hope that if it is passed then the business owners in Bolivar County do not embrace it. I think it will be a bad law," said Simmons.

According to Simmons, when there are businesses willing to pick and choose a certain type of individual who works for them or dines in their restaurants, then their value system should be questioned.

"It seems like we are getting back into the old days of discrimination and segregation. If the law is passed, then this means that individuals will be allowed to put up signs that will not allow certain individuals to enter their establishments," Simmons said.

"These are the same practices that were followed during the days of segregation," he added.

The Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act became more noticed after Arizona’s Senate Bill was passed last Thursday.

According to the Arizona bill, business owners or establishments would have the right to refuse service to individuals who violate or go against the business owner's religious preferences.

"I think any person should be allowed to have access to buildings and benefits regardless of their value system as long as they are not causing harm or intend to cause harm to anyone else," said Simmons.

"I may not particularly agree with a particular value that an individual has but as a government official, I do not have the right to prevent them from entering a church or business of their choice – that should be their decision," he added.

According to Amendment I of the United States Constitution, congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

If a particular section of Mississippi Senate Bill 2681 is passed, then it will go against the first amendment.

On Wednesday, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the bill.

According to laws in Arizona, businesses are allowed to choose to fire or refuse to hire anyone for any reason — so long as the refusal isn't on the basis of a "protected" category such as race or sex.

Arizona businesses are legally allowed to discriminate against gay and lesbian individuals because sexual orientation is not a protected category under state law.

According to Mississippi Senate Bill 2681, the purpose of the “Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act is to provide action or an action by any person based on state action shall not burden a person's right to the exercise of religion.”

Senate Bill 2681 is now in the Mississippi House of Representatives and included in that bill is an amendment that would change the state seal to include the words "In God We Trust."