The United States Supreme Court overturned bans against interracial marriage in Loving v. Virginia in 1967. Federal law prohibits race-based discrimination in public accommodation.
In 2016, Mississippi passed a law that affords special protections to opponents of same-sex marriage, which the Supreme Court had ruled was a constitutional right the previous year.
The law shields individuals and organizations who act in accordance with their “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions” about marriage and gender from potential government actions. It allows them to make decisions according to those beliefs in hiring, real estate, wedding services and foster care, among other situations, but it does not mention race or ethnicity.
The Human Rights Campaign, a nonprofit that supports L.G.B.T.Q. rights nationwide, called it “the worst anti-LGBTQ state law in the U.S.” It was blocked by a federal judge, but upheld on appeal.
As the Booneville video spread on social media, the city issued a statement on its Facebook page, writing that the city, mayor and board of aldermen “do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, age, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status.” Some commenters were not satisfied, and called for the officials to more forcefully condemn the comments.
“Religion should never be exploited as a license to discriminate,” Alphonso David, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement Tuesday. “This incident is yet another glaring example of how white supremacy and anti-LGBTQ bigotry are not merely things of the past. We must take action against these blatantly illegal practices.”
Joshua Tom, legal director and interim director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, said that religion “should never be used as a license to discriminate.”