Protecting Freedom of Conscience
from Government Discrimination

Why is the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act” (HB 1523) needed today?

Before the Supreme Court case regarding same-sex marriage (Obergefell v. Hodges), we saw states discriminate against people who believe in one man/one woman marriage. For instance:

  • California judges were barred from joining organizations that affirm one man/one woman marriage.
  • A Washington state judge was admonished by the state judicial commission for saying he was “uncomfortable” with performing same-sex marriages due to his religious beliefs. He was ordered to not make such statements in the future.
  • Governments in Illinois, Mass., and D.C. cancelled contracts to Christian-run adoption agencies because they only place a child with a married mother and father, even though the agencies referred other couples elsewhere.

Then, during oral arguments in Obergefell, the U.S. Solicitor General admitted that the tax-exempt status of private universities and colleges (and, by implication, all religious organizations) that define marriage as the union of one man/one woman would “be an issue” if the Supreme Court found a constitutional right to same-sex marriage — which it did.

Following the Obergefell ruling, the pressure to approve of same-sex marriage has only increased for religious schools, nonprofits, public employees, small business owners and others. All of these individuals and organizations should be protected from government coercion that would force people with sincerely held beliefs about one man/one woman marriage to violate their conscience.

What does HB 1523 do?

The Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act (HB 1523):

  • Protects individuals and entities from being penalized by the state or local governments for their moral or religious beliefs that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.
  • Protects individuals and entities who believe that sexual relationships are properly reserved to such marriages — such as a religious school that requires students and faculty to refrain from engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage.
  • Protects individuals and entities from being penalized for believing that “male” and “female” are biologically based.
  • Is supported by a majority (63 percent) of Miss. voters from both parties and every major demographic.

What does HB 1523 NOT do?

The Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act does NOT:

  • Change the legal definition of marriage.
  • Hinder or slow the process for providing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
  • Prevent the government from providing benefits or services authorized under state law.
  • Create a “license to discriminate.”

The Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act is focused on preventing government discrimination. States should not be in the business of forcing pastors, business owners and public employees to affirm conduct or practices that violate their sincerely held beliefs. Our government should never discriminate against, punish, or penalize people based on their sincerely held belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.