Last weekend, LaKambria S. Welch paid a visit to Boone’s Camp Event Hall in Boonesville, Mississippi to find out why, exactly, the venue had abruptly cancelled plans to host her brother's wedding. What the owner told her, according to the regional news site Deep South Voice, was shocking: "First of all, we don’t do gay weddings or mixed race, because of our Christian race—I mean, our Christian belief."
Welch's brother is black and his fiancée is white, and Welch recorded the conversation as she asked the owner to explain.
"Okay, we’re Christians as well,” Welch replies. "So, what in the Bible tells you that—"
The owner then cut her off, saying, "Well, I don’t want to argue my faith."
Mississippi passed the "Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Law" in 2016, a direct response to the Supreme Court's Obergefell v. Hodges decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. Commonly known as a "religious freedom" law, Mississippi essentially guaranteed legal protection to businesses and government employees who refuse to recognize same-sex marriages or deny services to LGBT people, as long as those businesses and employees cite "religious convictions." As Michael Lieberman, the Washington counsel for the Anti-Defamation League, pointed out on Twitter, many critics of the law have warned that it opens the door for all kinds of discrimination. Historically, religion was one of the many tools segregationists used to justify racial caste systems before the Civil Rights movement.
As Mississippi Today reports, a federal judge found that the law unconstitutionally violated both the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. But in 2017, a three-judge panel on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision, arguing that since the plaintiffs hadn't been negatively affected by the law, they had no grounds to challenge it. Last year, the Supreme Court decided not to hear any challenges to the Mississippi law.
Since the exchange went viral, millions of people have reportedly seen the recording online. Local officials even released a statement saying, "The City of Booneville, Mayor, and Board of Aldermen do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, age, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status. Furthermore, the City of Booneville, Mayor, and Board of Aldermen do not condone or approve these types of discriminatory policies."
The owner apparently reevaluated what parts of the Bible forbid interracial marriage: none of them. In a Facebook post, she said that when her husband pushed her on her justifications for turning Welch's brother and his fiancée away, she was shocked to learn that "biracial relationships were NEVER mentioned in The Bible!" The post has since been deleted, but according to the Washington Post, she wrote that as "a child growing up in Mississippi" it was understood that people stayed "with your own race." She closed her post apologetically, writing, "To all of those offended, hurt or felt condemn by my statement I truly apologize to you for my ignorance in not knowing the truth about this. My intent was never of racism, but to stand firm on what I ‘assumed’ was right concerning marriage."
When Mark Olmsted contracted HIV, in the early 1980s, he figured the disease was a death sentence. And so he hatched a scheme to live out his last years in style—swiping credit cards, bilking insurance companies, even faking his own death. What’s the problem with some forgery, fraud, and crystal meth if you’ll soon be gone? A better question might have been: What the hell happens if you survive?
Originally Appeared on GQ