Obama in UK: NC Bathroom Law and Mississippi Religious Freedom Law Should be Overturned

By Melanie Arter | April 22, 2016 | 2:06 PM EDT

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and President Barack Obama (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama in a joint press conference with UK Prime Minister David Cameron said that a North Carolina law that requires people to use the bathroom that corresponds with their biological sex and a Mississippi law that protects religious organizations and individuals from being forced to act against their faith in dealing with same-sex marriage should be overturned.

“I also think that the laws that have been passed there are wrong and should be overturned, and they’re in response to politics in part, in part some strong emotions that are generated by people – some of whom are good people, but I just disagree with them when it comes to respecting the equal rights of all people regardless of sexual orientation, whether transgender or gay or lesbian,” Obama said.

A reporter asked Obama and the prime minister about the laws, in light of the travel advisory that the U.K. issued for LGBT Brits. As CNSNews.com previously reported, the United Kingdom issued a travel advisory to its British LGBT citizens, warning them to be aware of the new laws in those two states should they travel there.

In Mississippi, HB 1523 or the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, would protect religious organizations and individuals from being forced to act against their faith on matters involving same-sex marriage. Government officials who want to recuse themselves from involvement in a same-sex marriage would have to take “all necessary steps” to ensure that a marriage license is not delayed.

Gov. Phil Bryant, who signed the bill into law, said it prevents “government from interfering with people of faith who are exercising their religious beliefs…in matters of marriage.”

As CNSNews.com previously reported, North Carolina’s law, H.B. 2, is “an act to provide for single-sex multiple occupancy bathroom and changing facilities in schools and public agencies and to create statewide consistency in regulation of employment and public accommodations.”

It also states that those restrooms are to be used according to one’s biological sex – “the physical condition of being male or female, which is stated on a person’s birth certificate.” The law also allows for “accommodations” by allowing entities to provide single-use restrooms “upon a person’s request due to special circumstances.”

“Mr. Prime Minister, the U.K. today warned its citizens traveling to North Carolina and Mississippi about laws there that affect transgender individuals. As a friend what do you think of those laws? Mr. President, would you like to weigh in on that?” the reporter asked.

First, the president praised the people of North Carolina and Mississippi as “wonderful people” who are also “hospitable.”

“I want everybody here in the United Kingdom to know that the people of North Carolina and Mississippi are wonderful people. They are hospitable people. They are beautiful states, and you are welcome, and you should come and enjoy yourselves, and I think you’ll be treated with extraordinary hospitality,” Obama said.

“I also think that the laws that have been passed there are wrong and should be overturned, and they’re in response to politics in part, in part some strong emotions that are generated by people – some of whom are good people, but I just disagree with them when it comes to respecting the equal rights of all people regardless of sexual orientation, whether transgender or gay or lesbian,” he said.

“And although I respect their different viewpoints, I think it’s very important for us not to send signals that anybody’s treated differently,” Obama said.

“And I think it’s fair to say that we’re not unique among countries where particularly under a federal system in which power is dispersed that there are going to be some localities or local officials that put forward laws that aren’t necessarily reflective of a national consensus, but if you guys come to North Carolina or Mississippi, everybody’ll be treated well,” he added.

Cameron weighed in, saying he’s been to North Carolina, but not Mississippi. “I’ve been to North Carolina many years ago and enjoyed it. I’ve not yet made it to Mississippi, but one day I hope to,” he said.

“The guidance that we put out – the Foreign Office gives advice on travel, and it obviously deals with laws and situations as they are, and it tries to give that advice dispassionately, impartially, but it’s very important that it does so – something that a lot of attention is given to,” Cameron said.

He said there should be laws that seek to end discrimination, not “embed” or enhance it.”

“Our view on any of these things is that we believe that we should be trying to use more to end discrimination rather than to embed it or enhance it, and that’s something that we’re comfortable saying to countries and friends anywhere in the world,” Cameron said.

“But obviously, the laws people pass is a matter for their own legislatures, but we make clear our own views about the importance of trying to end discrimination, and we’ve made some important steps forward in our own country on that front, which we’re proud of,” he added.