Gov. Phil Bryant received a Conservative Leadership Award from the Heritage Foundation last night for signing House Bill 1523 into law, despite the court blocking it from going into effect earlier this year.
Photo by Imani Khayyam.
JACKSON The Heritage Foundation awarded Gov. Phil Bryant a Conservative Leadership Award in Washington, D.C., earlier this week, for signing House Bill 1523 into law in April.
Following the award ceremony, Bryant wrote on his Facebook page, "I was humbled to receive the Conservative Leadership Award from the Heritage Foundation last night in Washington, D.C. I was joined in this class by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). Great honor for Mississippi and all those who believe in our Religious Freedoms as provided in the Constitution."
The Heritage Foundation, a conservative nonprofit think tank based in Washington, D.C., gives the award every year to "conservative leaders who have persevered in the face of the liberal machine," a press release from the Mississippi GOP states.
Mississippi GOP Chairman Joe Nosef said the award was a national honor.
"All of our people who value freedom should be proud of this recognition regardless of their politics," Nosef said in a press release. "For Phil Bryant's entire career of public service, protecting religious rights for all Mississippians has been critically important to him."
Back in April, Jim DeMint, president of the Heritage Foundation, wrote an article on the foundation's news site, The Daily Signal, called "The Extraordinary Courage of Gov. Phil Bryant."
DeMint lauded Bryant for his courage in signing HB 1523 into law and decried some news stories written about the bill.
Read the JFP's award-winning coverage of the tough fight for LGBT rights in Mississippi.
"A shocking amount of slanted news stories uncritically describe Mississippi's new law as 'anti-gay' or 'discriminatory.' Nothing could be farther from the truth," DeMint writes. "The law now simply protects religious organizations and a narrow slice of small businesses from being forced by government to engage in behavior that contradicts their deeply held beliefs. Nobody is being denied services because of who he is."
The court did not agree, however, and U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves blocked the bill from becoming law in June. Gov. Phil Bryant and John Davis, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services, appealed the ruling to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Bryant and Davis were denied expedited ruling in their appeal, but how the 5th Circuit will rule remains to be seen.
For more about House Bill 1523 and the fight for gay rights in Mississippi, visit jacksonfreepress.com/lgbt. Email state reporter arielle Dreher at [email protected].