For years, lawmakers in several U.S. states have debate religious freedom bills. Mississippi recently passed a related controversial law. It takes effect on July 1st. After signing it this week, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said it was designed to prevent the government from interfering with the lives of the people.
One purpose of the law is to protect people who believed that marriage is between one man and one woman. Under the law, if they refuse to provide service to a same sex couple for example, they cannot be sued for discrimination. Critics say the law would instead enable discrimination against same sex couples and others, and that it goes against the American principles of justice and equality.
The Mississippi law covers other subjects. It says the terms male and female apply specifically to a person's genetics and anatomy at birth and it gives businesses and school administrators the authority to decide access to bathrooms and locker rooms.
SUBTITLE: What is a Religious Freedom Bill?
DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Proponents of these bills say that the Constitution isn't designed to force private individuals to provide services. Opponents of these bills would say that the equal protection clause in the Constitution requires the government to do anything necessary to end discrimination.
Requiring private businesses to serve people is nothing new. Federal and state anti-discrimination laws already forced public accommodations to serve people regardless of things like race or gender.
States are within their authority to pass this religious freedom legislation. But the constitutionality of these laws will ultimately depend on the court that reviews them.
AZUZ: Human rights group Amnesty International, which opposes the death penalty, has released a new report about the issue. It says last year, there was an increase worldwide in the number of times the death penalty was carried out. Amnesty says its count of 1,634 executions was the highest number in 25 years. It says almost 90 percent of them took place in three countries, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan.
The death penalty used to be banned in Pakistan, but the country started allowing it again after terrorists attacked a school in 2014. In fact, Amnesty suggests the increase in executions is due in part to government's responses to security threats.
Amnesty estimates the China carries out the death penalty the most. But China considers the exact the number of them a state secret. So, the public doesn't have access to it.
The U.S. carried out 28 executions in 2015, its lowest number since 1991. Despite the global increase in people being put to death last year, the organization says that fewer people were sentenced to death, and that more than half of countries worldwide now have bans on capital punishment.