Ellen DeGeneres ripped into Mississippi’s religious freedom bill Thursday, calling it the very “definition of discrimination.” The queen of daytime talk opened Thursday’s Ellen DeGeneres Show with a monologue that is in turn hilarious and heartbreaking.
While the out comedian and talk show host’s remarks were peppered with comedy, the monologue was serious in nature. “I was fired for being gay and I know what it feels like,” she said.
She discussed the anti-LGBT bill passed recently in Mississippi allowing businesses, individuals and broadly defined “religiously affiliated organizations” to refuse service to LGBT people, single mothers, and others who somehow offend an individual’s “sincerely held religious belief” regarding marriage, gender, and sexuality.
“So, if you don’t know, the governor of the state signed a religious freedom bill, which might sound good because the word ‘freedom’ is in it,” she explained to her audience.
“But here’s what it means: Under the law, if you say for religious reasons, you can deny gay people marriage, adoption, and foster care services; fire or refuse to employ them; and decline to rent or sell them property.”
The comedian referred to the “religious liberty” law as a “human rights” issue, and explained that it hit close to home. She grew up in Louisiana and visits Mississippi often to see her family. Still, she encouraged people in Mississippi and North Carolina, which recently passed a law preventing cities from enacting LGBT-inclusive antidiscrimination ordinances, not to lose hope.
“I lost everything, but look at me now. I could buy that governor’s mansion, flip it, and make a $7 million profit,” she said, as the audience cheered on.
She told her audience that politicians must remember what it is that brings people together, instead of using differences to divide each other. “So I advocate for less hate and more love, less tearing apart and more coming together, less sitting and more dancing,” she said.
DeGeneres came out on her sitcom Ellen and in Time magazine in 1997. ABC canceled the series not long after she came out. Chaz Bono, who was then with GLAAD, and others claimed the show had become “too gay.”
Watch Ellen discuss the pro-discrimination legislation below.