Legal pressure may be ahead for law denying service to gays

The Mississippi governor's decision to sign a law that allows religious groups and some private businesses to deny services to gay and transgender people may have headed off opposition in the state's business community, but it could open the state to lawsuits.

Saying he was protecting religious freedom, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed the bill Tuesday without hesitation or fanfare just hours after it cleared its final legislative obstacle Monday.

Reaction from two large business associations which had released statements opposing the bill was muted, although some individual companies are criticizing the decision.

Opponents say they'll consider a legal challenge, and Democratic state Attorney General Jim Hood says he'll make "case-by-case" decisions on whether to defend the lawsuits, warning the bill doesn't override federal law or constitutional rights.