Religious Accommodations Act gains national attention - - Jackson, MS

Religious Accommodations Act gains national attention

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Legal protection or discrimination? The purpose of the Religious Accommodations Act varies depending on who you talk to. It's passed the House and Senate. But has to go back to the House for another seal of approval before it hits the Governor's desk.

On Friday, April 1, the House voted in favor of the bill, but it’s not going to the governor just yet.

Rep. Jay Hughes (D-Oxford) held the bill on a motion to reconsider, which means it could be brought up for further discussion when the House reconvenes on Monday.

Opponents say the proposal legalizes discrimination. While supporters say it's legal protection for those exercising their religious beliefs.

"I shouldn't be forced to violate that principle to satisfy someone else's lawsuit or claim or whatever it may be," noted bill author Rep. Andy Gipson-R.

"The First Amendment is a robust protection of our religious beliefs in our religious freedoms," said Rob Hill, Human Rights Campaign Mississippi State Director. "Pastors are already protected."

Wednesday night's Senate vote wasn't the first time opponents have made their case known. Several rallied outside the Capitol earlier this week. House Bill 1523 was proposed to give legal protection for cases like: refusing to perform a marriage, hire someone or rent a home to a member of the LGBT community.

"You've got LGBT people in Mississippi who have heard throughout the nurse may be at a church school or even in their home unfortunately that they are not a value and that they're second class," Hill added. "And here's our state leaders saying exactly that same thing."

TV host Montel Williams has a string of tweets blasting the proposal. One reading: "It's a "miracle" Ross Barnett has risen from the dead and come back to help Mississippi rise again! Yup, went there #HB1523 is that bad..."

"Personally I'm hurt," said Hill. "I'll just be very honest about that."

"It looks to me like is their goal is to actually force people to violate their conscience," explained Rep. Gipson. "It shows why we need this bill."

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