South Mississippians react to HB 1523

South Mississippians react to HB 1523

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - A controversial bill is one giant step closer to Governor Bryant's desk. House Bill 1523 passed the Senate Wednesday with a 32 to 17 vote.

Many people are calling the "Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act" a potential disaster. Those who support it say it will help protect rights spelled out in the constitution. Those who oppose it say it would be a stain on our state.

"I think that we should be protected to be able to feel the way we want to feel about religion, but I can also see a lot of potential problems with this particular bill," said Bonnie Smith.

The bill lays out language that would protect people, religious organizations, and private associations in making certain decisions based on religious beliefs. Some people say the problem lies in what could be considered a religious belief.

"It's not my right to judge," said Smith. She believes decisions, like employment, should be made based on the work ethic of an employee, not what their beliefs or practices are, unless those beliefs or practices could cause harm.

Moreno Jones and his wife think the bill needs some serious work before it can be considered. "I think I would have to encourage the governor not to sign it into law," said Moreno Jones.

He believes that the wording of the bill would allow for a wide interpretation. He wonders where the line would be drawn. Could anything essentially be deemed against someone's religious beliefs? And would that someone be protected if they deny service, terminate someone's employment, or make any other decision based on those beliefs?

"It's quite likely that some folks would take this to the extreme," said Moreno. He believes that God meant for everyone to be equal, and a bill of this nature doesn't fit with that belief.

A quick search of #HB1523 shows people across the nation speaking out against the bill on Twitter. Many of them are also pointing out that the potential reach of the bill could affect many people outside the LGBT community.

The bill now moves back to the House for more work before possibly landing on the governor's desk.

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