TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – A controversial bill is on its way to Governor Phil Bryant’s desk after the Mississippi State Legislature approved the bill in a final vote Monday.
That bill being House Bill 1523, or also known as the Religious Freedom Bill.
“It addresses that persons right to believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman, and that sexual activity is within the confines of that relationship, and, also, that gender identity is established at birth”, said American Family Association National Field Director Rob Chambers.
Residents in Tupelo came together Monday for a meet-and-greet rally to voice their opposition of HB 1523.
“We think it promotes and opens the door for discrimination to the LGBTQ community and others as well”, said Tupelo rally organizer Will Knight.
Knight also said he wanted the rally to be an opportunity for others to meet people from around the area.
Among those in attendance, Reverend Paul Stephens of the All Saints’ Episcopal Church came to Monday’s rally to voice his opposition to the bill.
“The assumption that the people in the LGBTQ community aren’t religious is erroneous…”, said Stephens.
“There are many people who are in that community and supporters of that community who are very religious, who are active at our churches and other churches…
I don’t think we can make the assumption that because someone is against this particular bill that’s on it’s way to the governor, to sign or to veto, that they are not religious. I just don’t buy that…”
Stephens also said he hopes to rally will help encourage residents to “become active in the political process, that they will speak their mind, that we can have a debate in a civil way.
That we can express and our heartfelt feelings with people that we disagree with. I’m afraid…we’ve moved too far away from that paradigm…”
Both the Mississippi Manufacturers Association and the Mississippi Economic Council have voiced their opposition to the bill.