HATTIESBURG, MS. - A three judge panel of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld Mississippi House Bill 1523 Thursday.
The bill says merchants and government employees can cite religious beliefs in denying services to same sex couples.
The ruling overturns a lower court ruling that the law was unconstitutional. Local LGBT Activist Brandiilyne Mangum-Dear said the LGBT community will continue to fight against the bill.
“And now we are going to have to re-evaluate it because this decision even though the bill will not go into effect immediately, this decision empowers people" said Mangum-Dear.
She added, "And, we have to be careful and protect our church and our families, and that is our plan, we are going to continue to fight it, I mean its not over yet."
Mangum-Dear said House Bill 1523 leaves the LGBT community exposed to danger. "We had to put guards in front of our church after the bill initially passed because there was a truck with a swastika parked across the street."
"And just this week the Christian Knights of the KKK distributed flyers throughout the Hattiesburg area" she continued.
"Today's (Thursday) ruling leaves us more exposed, so we will have to be more vigilant than ever before to protect our church, our families and our dignity."
Mississippi State Senator Joey Fillingane told FOX 23, "I believe it is good business to do business with everybody, but if you are asking me if every business owner be forced, to serve everybody that walks through their door by the government, probably not."
He added, "But as a good business, to do business with more people as supposed to fewer people, I think it is."
"So there is the legality of something, I think the 5th Circuit thus far, no one has shown any damage to themselves, so they are not going to overturn a law based on speculation" said Senator Fillingane.
Senator Fillingane, a Hattiesburg lawyer, suggested those opposing HB 1523 should show actual proof. "If you are the plaintiff in this case, I think just from a legal, strategist standpoint you may want to re-calculate and find some people who claim actual damages, and not speculation damages."
The plaintiffs in this case have two options according to Senator Fillingane. They can ask the entire U.S. Fifth Circuit Court to take another look or they can take it straight to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"This is just a disappointment, and we are just going to keep fighting and keep going, until the bill is dead" Mangum-Dear said.