HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed the Religion Freedom bill into law Tuesday causing Hattiesburg residents to voice their opinions.
House Bill 1523 stated:
"AN ACT TO CREATE THE "PROTECTING FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE FROM GOVERNMENT DISCRIMINATION ACT"; TO PROVIDE CERTAIN PROTECTIONS REGARDING A SINCERELY HELD RELIGIOUS BELIEF OR MORAL CONVICTION FOR PERSONS, RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS AND PRIVATE ASSOCIATIONS; TO DEFINE A DISCRIMINATORY ACTION FOR PURPOSES OF THIS ACT; TO PROVIDE THAT A PERSON MAY ASSERT A VIOLATION OF THIS ACT AS A CLAIM AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT; TO PROVIDE CERTAIN REMEDIES; TO REQUIRE A PERSON BRINGING A CLAIM UNDER THIS ACT TO DO SO NOT LATER THAN TWO YEARS AFTER THE DISCRIMINATORY ACTION WAS TAKEN; TO PROVIDE CERTAIN DEFINITIONS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES."
Governor Bryant explained on Twitter Tuesday why he signed the controversial bill, "This bill merely reinforces the rights which currently exist to the exercise of religious freedom as stated in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution."
Governor Bryant continued to explain to his followers, "The bill does not limit any constitutionally protected rights or actions." However, some Hattiesburg residents disagree on his statement.
Pastor at Joshua Generation, Brandiilyne Mangum-Dear said, "As a member of the LGBT community, I was hurt that the state that I love and call home would do this."
She added, "As a member of the Christian community, I am mortified and I am angry because I am witnessing this trend in our society today and there is an exodus in the church."
Mangum-Dear believes the Christian community is losing young people in "droves" because of bills like HB 1523.
Some residents even mentioned the government and church should keep separate to avoid social conflict.
Clinard Martin of Hattiesburg said, "I do not believe politics and religion should ever mix. If you look at the so-called book we look at, it says, 'Judge ye not for you shall be judged,' I think the Governor made a bold mistake."
Former Chaplain Graham Hales of Hattiesburg added, "I think it is a bold march into the past, it is legalized discrimination and hate, it is just amazing how Mississippi is always at the bottom of national trends."
Representative Greg Snowden voted for HB 1523 twice.
Rep. Snowden told FOX 30 in Meridian, "It does allow someone who has a contrary sincerely religious belief to be not compelled into participating in something that they do not want to participate in, that's what I think is fundamental protection of individual liberty."
Christian business owner of Forget Me Not in Oak Grove, Pat Wilks, supports Governor Bryant's action of signing the bill.
Wilks said, "I just feel like him signing that into law protects Christians as business owners, just like churches if they do not want to marry a gay couple, to me, they should have that right."
She mentioned she is proud that Gov. Bryant is standing up to the bill, "A lot of Christian rights are being taken away as Christians as you know Christians are being martyred all over the world."
Wilks further mentioned that this law will protect her right as a business owner.
"My actions would take place if two gays were kissing or drawing attention to themselves in a public place, especially a Christian bookstore then yes I would have a problem with that, just as I would of someone cursing."
Despite the new law, others are taking immediate action in hopes to repeal.
Chris Duffrene of Hattiesburg against HB 1523 said, "Most of all I went into defense mode, what can I do to turn this around because I feel like we sort of took several steps back."
The new law goes into effect July 1.