News Release - Poll Shows Voter Support for HB 1523

By Mississippi Center for Public Policy
April 1, 2016

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New poll shows Mississippi voters want to protect pastors, churches, schools, and businesses from government discrimination and unjust punishment

JACKSON, MS - A new poll of registered Mississippi voters shows significant support for a bill moving through the state legislature that ensures the government does not discriminate against individuals and organizations because of their belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

According to the poll, conducted this week by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, 63 percent of Mississippians support such a law. Every segment of the population identified in the poll - by race, age, sex, and political party - expressed support.

"These poll results confirm the broad and diverse support HB 1523 has across the state," said Forest Thigpen, president of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, which released the poll.

"Mississippians understand that religious freedom is the most basic and important of all our freedoms," said Thigpen. "HB 1523 is narrowly focused to protect sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage being a one-man/one-woman relationship."

Thigpen said most people in the state believe in the principle of "live-and-let-live." He said: "Mississippians want to protect themselves and their neighbors from government overreach and from penalties for living according to their beliefs. The polling data confirms that Mississippi voters strongly agree that schools, churches, business owners, and public employees have a right to believe and act according to their views about one-man/one-woman marriage."

The telephone survey of 625 registered Mississippi voters was conducted March 28-30. Respondents were asked whether they agreed with protecting people from government discrimination, including loss of employment or loss of nonprofit status, because of a sincere belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Thigpen said, "HB 1523 ensures charities, nonprofits, churches, and pastors who serve the state in countless ways are not targeted or punished by the government but instead remain free to continue to serve their fellow citizens according to their heartfelt convictions."

"It seems that the opponents have not even read the bill, or they have picked out specific words or phrases without seeing or understanding the context. If they do understand it, their opposition shows the extreme nature of the Left and some corporate interests that treat even mild religious protections as unacceptable."

"Freedom of religion is a basic human right that deserves protection under the law," Thigpen said. "The Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act advances this commonsense principle. This poll shows that Mississippi voters strongly agree."

* Full question cross-tab matrix and respondent results
* One-page summary of HB 1523



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