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Mississippi governor signs religion law over gay rights protests

"This is a sad day for the state of Mississippi and for the thousands of Mississippians who can now be turned away…"

MississippiGovernorPhil Bryant on Tuesday signed intolawa measure affording wide protections for actions considered discriminatory bygayrightsactivists.

The far-reachinglawallows people with religious objections to deny wedding services to same-sex couples. It also clears the way for employers to citereligionin determining workplace policies on dress code, grooming and bathroom and locker access.

Bryant, a Republican, said in a statement that he signed thelaw"to protect sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions of individuals, organizations and private associations from discriminatory action by state government."

RELATED:Mississippi lawmakers approve religion bill amid gay-rights protests

His decision comes amid nationalprotestsover a newlawbarring transgender people in North Carolina from choosing bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. Meanwhile, thegovernors of Georgia and Virginia vetoed similar "religious liberty" bills last week.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) criticized theMississippilaw, which it said is set to take effect in July.

"This is a sad day for the state ofMississippiand for the thousands ofMississippians who can now be turned away from businesses, refused marriage licenses, or denied housing, essential services and needed care based on who they are," said Jennifer Riley-Collins, executive director of the ACLU ofMississippi.

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