A new campaign by restaurants is countering Mississippi’s contentious religious freedom law with three words: “Everyone’s Welcome Here.”
The Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association (MHRA) is launching a campaign to get Mississippi businesses to hang up decals at their establishments with the phrase “Everyone’s Welcome Here,” WAPT reports. Executive Director of the trade organization MHRA Mike Cashion said he is creating decals with the slogan for businesses to put on their front doors by the end of April.
“When HB 1523 was signed, Mississippi was thrust into the national spotlight,” Cashion said in a statement.”Regardless of its intent, this legislation has created a level of controversy and public perception that affects the image of our state and the hospitality community. And while we may not be able to manage the image and brand of the entire state, we can affect the image of our restaurants, hotels and other hospitality businesses. When our industry is challenged, we as an organization will take prudent steps to protect and promote the restaurant and hospitality industry.”
The move comes after Republican Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill Tuesday that protects people who refuse service because of their sincerely-held religious beliefs on premarital sex, gender and traditional marriage.
[dcquiz] The Mississippi law, HB1523, specifically says that people can refuse service based on their beliefs that sex belongs within marriage, that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and that gender corresponds with your anatomical gender at birth. Hypothetically, the bill would protect florists who refused to service gay weddings or government employees like Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple based on her religious beliefs.
Republicans and Democrats have argued how far the bill’s language allows the refusal of service to go, and likely only time will tell.
“Our industry serves a diverse customer base and we want to make sure all customers are appreciated and welcomed,” Cashion said in a statement. “We have a very clear and strong message to convey. Mississippi’s restaurant industry is open for everyone’s business.”
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