The ACLU of Mississippi is deeply disturbed that the Mississippi State Senate passed House Bill 1523 by a vote of 31-17. This bill allows freedom of religion to cover prejudice and to justify discrimination.

Freedom of religion is one of our most fundamental rights as Americans, but that freedom does not give any of us the right to harm or mistreat others.

The ACLU of MS believes that all people are free to follow and practice their faith – or no faith at all – without government influence or interference, and that the government remains completely neutral regarding matters of religion and belief. When we seek to codify discriminatory legislation, we tarnish the treasure of religious freedom and the highest ideals of our democracy.

Legislators have gone out of their way to stigmatize and marginalize same sex couples by pushing this legislation. The Mississippi State Legislature should look for ways to bring Mississippians together, not divide us along religious lines. The ACLU of Mississippi urges the state legislature to kill this divisive bill in conference.