Gov. Phil Bryant signs ‘religious freedom’ bill into law

Gov. Phil Bryant
Gov. Phil Bryant

JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has signed a bill that says state and local governments cannot put a substantial burden on religious practices.

The bill sparked emotional debate in the Legislature about possible anti-gay discrimination.

Bryant signed Senate Bill 2681 Thursday. It becomes law on July 1.

Supporters say 18 other states have similar laws that mirror a federal law President Bill Clinton signed in 1993.

An early version of the Mississippi bill, considered weeks ago, was similar to one Arizona’s Republican governor, Jan Brewer, vetoed after business groups said it could hurt that state’s economy.

Supporters say the final Mississippi bill bears little resemblance to the failed Arizona measure.

But opponents say they still worry a law could prompt people to cite religious beliefs in discriminating against others.