Since Phil Bryant signed HB1523 on April 5, the Sun Herald has received Letters to the Editor both for and against Mississippi's new law allowing public and private businesses to refuse services to LGBT people based on religious beliefs.
Here is a sampling of those opinions:
Nothing's changed except Christians now have rights
I don't understand. If gay rights matter, why don't Christian rights matter?
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House Bill 1523 doesn't say you can't serve, sell to or cater to LGBT people. It simply says you don't have to.
Before this bill was signed, ministers were told they had to marry homosexuals; churches had to be used for homosexual weddings; and bakers had to furnish cakes and/or decorations for the services. They could not refuse. Isn't that discrimination?
Why is it OK to discriminate against Christians? Don't you realize that is what happens when Christians are forced to provide services that are against their beliefs?
Christians don't hate homosexuals, which is what protesters want you to believe. We just don't condone that lifestyle and do not want to encourage it.
If you would just step back and look at the bill, nothing changes except the fact that Christians now have rights.
Mississippi's stand on same-sex marriage is right
During the Supreme Court's arguments on the definition of marriage, the attorney for the Obama administration said "yes" when asked if this ruling would jeopardize the nonprofit status of organizations that believe marriage should only be between one man and one woman.
HB 1523 forbids forcing people who accept God's law regarding homosexual practices to disobey God. It's about religious liberty.
Addressing the Sun Herald editorial board's opinion on April 3:
The Supreme Court has spoken, but it doesn't speak for the highest lawgiver in the land who ruled against same-sex marriage: "Those who indulge in sexual sin ... or commit adultery ... or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality ... none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Heterosexual sin is included, and it is homosexual practice, not inclination, that is sinful.
Mississippi's image in God's eyes matters more than its image in anyone else's eyes. Let the media criticize Mississippi, but don't displease God. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed largely due to homosexual sin.
Tourism? Sure! But let's be more concerned about our pilgrimage to eternity.
We are all sinners. When it comes to sexual immorality, heterosexuals commit sin, too. We can and should judge objectively by recognizing what's disobedient to our Father's laws, given to us in love for our benefit.
That is the only way we can judge rightly or have the right to judge. We cannot judge a person's heart or motives or know what hidden circumstances there may be that lessen guilt. We cannot know how any person stands with God.
Jesus didn't discriminate, so why are Christians?
I have canceled vacation plans to Biloxi and Gulfport due to the discriminatory nature of House Bill 1523, a "religious freedom" bill that openly discriminates against same-sex marriage partners and transgender citizens and visitors.
I won't even address the extramarital sex portion of HB1523. How do you identify the extramarital partners without pinning an "A" for adultery on their chests?
I will not spend my money traveling to a state that doesn't value people of varying backgrounds or provide equal rights for all.
I am a 64-year-old Christian, heterosexual grandmother, and I believe HB1523 promotes open discrimination. Those who refuse to provide a service to the LGBT community may say they are doing so under the guise of religious opposition, but those of us who truly hold Christian beliefs know they are bigots/wolves in sheep's clothing.
Jesus, son of God, didn't treat people like this when he lived on Earth. Neither should the citizens of Mississippi.
East Petersburg, Penn.
Mississippi should focus on citizens, not supporting discrimination
I was pleased to read the Sun Herald editorial board immediately issued its opinion denouncing House Bill 1523, which was signed into state law and discriminates against the LGBT community.
This was a waste of time and effort from Mississippi's congress. There are so many important issues that need focus, but prejudices seem to surface regularly instead.
This state's governor is the perfect spin master; he states that he is protecting religious freedom while defending his signing of this gross tragedy. The claim is that this is a freedom for Christians. Apparently, this is only for a certain segment of the Christian community. Who has the right to judge people in the LGBT community and say they can't be Christian?
What's happened here is that Mississippi continues to lower itself into a deeper quagmire. The Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex marriage is the law of the land. Why not move on, Mississippi? Take care of real issues that are necessary and important to the citizens of this state.
Supporters of HB1523 aren't bigots
In "Mississippi, from wrong side of history, sends wrong message to rest of world" (April 3), the Sun Herald editorial board takes issue with House Bill 1523 which, in its opinion, discriminates against gays and lesbians.
The editorial notes that "The highest court in the land has ruled: Same-sex couples have a right to marry that is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution" and that "We could have accepted the wisdom of that decision and moved on, leaving matters of love and marriage to the individuals involved."
What wisdom? So many of us out here are appalled by that decision because it's inconsistent with natural law, reason, common sense and long-standing tradition. Same-sex couples have the same basic individual rights as the rest of us, but they cannot generate new life by themselves, so it is a farce to put them in the same category as traditional couples composed of one male and one female.
A rising problem being generated by the decision and other related movements is the tendency to classify some of us as bigots and discriminators.
House Bill 1523 may have its flaws, but it -- and many other legislative efforts throughout the U.S. -- are grappling with how to preserve traditional religious freedoms and constitutional rights now endangered by court decisions and administration policies.
HARRY R. HULL JR.
Discrimination under 'religious freedom' isn't very Christlike
Regarding the recent Mississippi legislation allowing LGBT people to be discriminated against under the ruse of "religious freedom":
Who would Jesus himself discriminate against? Please tell me that the lord of infinite mercy, compassion and forgiveness would turn away someone who was hungry, sick or needed shelter and clothing because they were living in sin as an LGBT person!
Would that also include Jews, Buddhists, Muslims and atheists? Are they not also living in sin as unsaved non-Christians?
What about a woman who chooses not to wear makeup and has some masculine traits? Does that make her a lesbian in the eyes of this distorted version of Christianity and thus not worthy?
Same for a man with effeminate mannerisms. He may be gay, so should he be turned away as well? Sorry, but your version of Christianity isn't very Christlike.