Ellen DeGeneres on new anti-gay Mississippi law: ‘This is not politics, this is human rights’

Ellen DeGeneres called up her celebrity friends while in quarantine this week, telling John Legend and Chrissy Teigen how bored she is.
Ellen DeGeneres called up her celebrity friends while in quarantine this week, telling John Legend and Chrissy Teigen how bored she is.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Using a bit of humor and her show's opening monologue, Ellen DeGeneres spoke out Thursday regarding the religious-freedom law signed this week by the governor of Mississippi that would allow discrimination based on sexual orientation.

"I'm not a political person, I'm really not, but this is not politics, this is human rights," the talk-show host said in a video posted Thursday. "... And when I see something wrong, I have to talk about it. It's the same thing that I do when I see men wearing Spandex in line at Starbucks. It's wrong, and I need to discuss it."

DeGeneres first explained the law, signed Tuesday by Gov. Phil Bryant. Essentially, the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act says the government can't discriminate against a person or religious organization that acts — that is, refuses to participate in or provide something — in accordance with "sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions" regarding marriage, healthcare, adoption, housing, employment and more (it's a long list — see the details here).

The backers of the law say it protects religious freedoms; detractors, including DeGeneres, say it allows discrimination against people based on sexual orientation.

Religious freedom or anti-gay? Here's a look at the battle in some states

"So this issue is very personal to me, obviously," she said. "I'm disappointed for several reasons. First of all, Mississippi is the only state I know how to spell. Second of all, that is the definition of discrimination. It is also something that the Supreme Court already ruled on when they made marriage a right for everyone. Everyone."

Now add a dash of humor: "The Supreme Court said the same thing that Diana Ross and the Supremes said a long time ago: 'Stop, in the name of love.' ... now Mississippi is saying, 'I don't second that emotion.'"

DeGeneres encouraged people who live in and around that state to not lose hope if they feel judged based on whom they love. She earned a huge round of applause after invoking her own story, noting that she'd been fired for being gay and had lost everything.

"But look at me now," the notorious re-decorator said. "I could buy that governor's mansion and flip it and make a $7-million profit."

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For those not swayed by the human rights argument — and there appeared to be very few of them in her audience — DeGeneres also boiled it down in simple-but-adorable economic terms.

"Sometimes I think it's easier to explain things if you break it down, so imagine this: Two cupcakes walk into a flower shop" — of course they do — "and they want to buy a dozen roses. But the florist doesn't believe in selling flowers to cupcakes because they don't have any money."

Long pause.

"But gay people do, so sell 'em the damn flowers."

Follow Christie D'Zurilla on Twitter @theCDZ.


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