Daytime talk show host Ellen DeGeneres slammed Mississippi’s new religious freedom law as “the definition of discrimination” on Wednesday, saying “I was fired for being gay and I know what it feels like.”
House Bill 1523, which was signed by Gov. Phil Bryant on Tuesday, allows religious groups and private businesses to refuse service to members of the LGBT community based on “sincerely held” religious beliefs.
DeGeneres, who is a lesbian, criticized Bryant’s signing the bill on her show as an issue of “human rights” that could lead to widespread discrimination against gays and lesbians.
My thoughts on Mississippi. https://t.co/zpxX5Swwh2
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) April 7, 2016
The Ellen host said the new law “might sound good because the word ‘freedom’ is in it, but here’s what it means: Under the law, if you say for religious reasons you can ‘deny gay people marriage, adoption and foster care services; fire or refuse to employ them; and decline to rent or sell them property.’”
“Now, I’m not a political person, I’m really not. But this is not politics, this is human rights,” she said. “I mean, and when I see something wrong, I have to talk about it. It’s the same thing that I do when I see men wearing Spandex in line at Starbucks. It’s wrong and I need to discuss it.”
DeGeneres continued: “So, this issue is very personal to me, obviously. I’m disappointed for several reasons… First of all, Mississippi is the only state I know how to spell. Second of all, that is the definition of discrimination. It is also something that the Supreme Court already ruled on when they made marriage a right for everyone, everyone. And they’re Supreme.”
“If you’re in Mississippi or North Carolina or anywhere and you’re saddened by the fact that people are judging you based on who you love, don’t lose hope,” she added. “I was fired for being gay and I know what it feels like. I lost everything. But look at me now. I could buy that Governor’s mansion, flip it and make a $7 million dollar profit. I mean look, there’s already so much inequality in the world: women’s rights, gender pay gap, racism… I think we need to remember that we are more similar than we are different. And we all want the same things. Love, acceptance, kindness.”
DeGeneres concluded saying she advocated for “less hate and more love.”
In a statement posted on Twitter on Tuesday, Gov. Bryant said he signed the bill “to protect sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions of individuals organizations and private associations” from discriminatory action by state government, and to reinforce existing First Amendment religious rights.
The bill is intended to protect individuals, religious organizations, and some businesses who believe marriage is defined as “a union of one man and one woman,” and who believe gender is defined according to a person’s biology.