LGBT activists outraged over Mississippi's "religious freedom" law

"Religious freedom" law passes in Mississippi... 02:30

JACKSON, Miss. -- Twenty-one states, mostly in the South, have enacted laws that allow people and businesses to refuse services to people who offend the business owner's religious beliefs.

After weeks of protest, Mississippi now offers gays and lesbians the least protection from discrimination in America.

Its new so-called "religious freedom law" allows business people and government workers to deny services, based on their religious beliefs.

The law applies to marriage licenses, jobs, housing, even an employer's dress code -- and prevents state government from intervening once religious beliefs are the reason given.

North Carolina faces backlash for "anti-discr... 02:12

"I think it protects the religious freedom of people who have deeply held religious beliefs and so did the legislature and so did the majority of the people of the state of Mississippi, so we signed it into law," Governor Phil Bryant Bryant said.

A recent poll indicated nearly two-thirds of Mississippians support the new law. Pentecostal pastor David Tipton is one of them.

"We should be able to freely express our religious views and live by our conscious," Tipton told CBS News.

Gay rights advocates were outraged. One tweeted Mississippi had enacted the "...most toxic anti-LGBT law ever."

Also critical were Fortune 500 companies like Chevron, MGM Resorts and Nissan, which said its "...policy (is) to prohibit discrimination of any type."

Mitchell Moore owns Campbell's Bakery in downtown Jackson. He told CBS News if a gay couple came in and wanted a wedding cake, "I sell them a wedding cake. It's what I do. We sell cakes."

The 43-year-old registered Republican calls the law a big mistake.

"I am a Christian, but I don't think Christianity tells me that I have to discriminate against people," Moore said. "In fact, I'm here to serve people, not to turn them away."

Georgia's governor vetoed a similar bill last week. Lawmakers in eight other states have similar legislation pending.

  • strassmannbio2011.jpg
    Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001 and is based in the Atlanta bureau.