Like CBS and NBC did in their morning shows, and all three networks did in the evening news the night before, Wednesday’s World News Tonight on ABC obsessively harped on Mississippi’s “controversial” “religious freedom law,” complete with scare quotes. Correspondent Steve Osunsami highlighted how critics called the law “state-sanctioned bigotry.”
Anchor David Muir began the segment by warning that Mississippi's new law had inspired a similar law that is being voted on in Tennessee.Correspondent Steve Osunsami then took over
STEVE OSUNSAMI: Tonight, the culture war over same-sex marriage has come to Mississippi. Protesters here are taking their outrage to Governor Phil Bryant's door. This week, he signed in a new law allowing public and private businesses to refuse service, on religious grounds, to gay or transgender people and not just cakes, flowers and wedding venues, but adoptions, certain medical services and counseling.
While allowing a soundbite from one of the law’s supporters and detractors, Osunsami followed up with, “But critics call it state-sanctioned bigotry.”
When a state’s legislature attempts any move to protect Christian business owners, it’s all the media can complain about. And if that bill is shot down, as it was in Georgia, the move is praised and then forgotten.
See the full transcript below:
DAVID MUIR: Next here this evening to a flashpoint, the Tennessee legislature weighing a vote on a new law to protect the right of counselors to turn away patients if treating them would violate their religious beliefs. It's the latest in a wave of similar laws across the country, including a move in Mississippi. ABC’s Steve Osunsami is there tonight in one town, talking to people on both sides of the heated issue
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Controversial Law; Gov. Signs “Religious Freedom” Bill]
REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR PHIL BRYANT (Miss.): Well, I think it protects the religious freedom of people who have deeply held religious beliefs.
OSUNSAMI: The new law is specific about what beliefs it protects. That “marriage is between one man and one woman,” “sexual relations are reserved to marriage,” and that “gender is determined...at the time of birth.”
MISSISSIPPI BAPTIST CONVENTION’s WILLIAM PERKINS: Honest people who have a legitimate objection to what's going on — a religious objection have a course of action now.
OSUNSAMI: But critics call it state-sanctioned bigotry. Karen Brown, a baker in Southaven, Mississippi, says she only needs to know how you want the cake.
SOUTHHAVEN, MS BAKER KAREN BROWN: What a person chooses to do is between them and the people that they love and the deities that they worship.
OSUNSAMI: Executives from several large companies have written appeals to get the law overturned. In North Carolina, more than 80 businesses are protesting the law there, and PayPal is now pulling 400 jobs and a $3.6 million project. Tonight, a number of governors across the country are telling state workers they can't travel here to Mississippi for business. David?