Venue turned down an interracial wedding, citing “Christian belief.”
September 4, 2019 9:39 AM Subscribe
The relationship between religious exemption laws and racial discrimination is not new. As the venue owners attempt to minimize the fallout and backlash to their business, the incident has also called new attention to a 2016 Mississippi law that protects “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions” about same-sex marriages, premarital sex, and gender identity. The law does not allow a person to discriminate based on race or ethnicity. Federal law prohibits racial discrimination in public accommodations.
the Mississippi incident fits into a larger discussion about religious exemptions (also known as religious accommodations), which have recently been used to support those who argue that providing services to LGBTQ people or covering things like contraception for women violate the religious beliefs of business owners.
Critics of these sorts of accommodations argue that they are nothing but a shield for people who want to discriminate against others. To make that point further, civil rights advocates often argue that there is little distinguishing these sorts of accommodations from bans on interracial marriage and racial discrimination. Supporters of religious exemptions counter that there are clear civil rights laws that ban discrimination based on race, and that they would not break these laws.
But incidents like the one at the Mississippi venue suggest that there are people who aren’t aware of the distinction some groups have sought to construct.
In recent years, the discussion of race and religious accommodations has largely been hypothetical. But it doesn’t have to be; historically, similar religious accommodation arguments have been used to oppose integration and interracial marriage. The argument, according to proponents of these accommodations, was that protections based on race infringed on religious beliefs.
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