JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - The Human Rights Campaign, ACLU of Mississippi, and LGBT equality advocates gathered outside the Mississippi State Capitol Monday morning where they urged House Speaker Philip Gunn not to bring House Bill 1523 up for a final vote. That vote is currently set to take place in the House Monday evening.
Those opposed to the bill say the "Religious Liberty Accommodations Act," religion could be used by most any individual or organization to justify discrimination against LGBT people, single mothers, unwed couples and others. Taxpayer funded faith-based organizations could: refuse to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples for provision of critical services including emergency shelter; deny children placement with LGBT families including the child's own family member; and refuse to sell or rent a for-profit home to an LGBT person - even if the organization receives government funding.
The campaign against the bill has reached across the nation, with businesses and celebrities from Mississippi speaking out.
Meanwhile, Congressman Steven Palazzo on Monday released a statement of support for HB1523. He said legislation of this type shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.
"Last June, the Supreme Court announced their decision to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. I expressed my adamant disagreement and disappointment with this decision that undermines the Constitution and the will of the people of Mississippi. Under the United States Constitution, marriage laws have always been a matter left for the states," Palazzo said in a statement.
"Therefore, it should come as no shock that states stripped of their Constitutional authorities would take actions like this to protect the religious freedoms of their citizens. Enough is enough. I continue to stand strong on this issue and support the objective of this bill to protect individuals from government interference when practicing their religious beliefs."
The groups opposed to the HB1523 already have a rally planned for Monday night in front of the governor's mansion, in anticipation of the bill's passage. They're hoping the governor will veto the measure if it reaches his desk. Governor Bryant has not said if he will sign it.