Mississippi's controversial religious freedom law is back in the spotlight. An appeals court will hear the state's case today in Texas.
The "Protecting Freedom of Conscience From Government Discrimination Act was due to take effect July 1, of 2016. But a federal judge struck down the law. HB1523, as it's commonly called, allows businesses, government officers and individuals with deeply held religious beliefs to deny some services including accommodations or employment to same sex couples. Ron Matis, is with the Mississippi District United Pentecostal Church in Raymond. He says people of faith have legitimate concerns about being fined or punished if they deny gay couples services.
"All this law does is say in wedding related matters people of faith have the right to live by and conduct themselves according to their sincerely held religious beliefs," said Matis.
Today the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in Lubbock, Texas will hear the State of Mississippi's appeal. The Campaign for Southern Equality has taken the lead in opposing the HB1523. Attorney Roberta Kaplan argues the law violates the first amendment. She contends it promotes anti-gay beliefs not held by all religions in Mississippi and will embolden those with anti-gay sentiments. She used examples from the initial hearing.
"We presented testimony about gay men in the Delta, being afraid to go out to dinner together. There was a story that we told about a young kid, a kindergartener, first grader, whose teacher told her in front of the class with all the other kids there that her two moms really weren't married," said Kaplan.
Governor Phil Bryant, in a statement, says HB1523 is a good law. He says people of Mississippi have the right to live and work without fear of being punished for their sincerely held beliefs.