State Senator's gay brother slams HB 1523
MISSISSIPPI (WDAM) - The gay brother of a Mississippi State Senator slammed The Religious Accommodation Act and his sibling's vote for it in a Facebook post.
Jonathan Fillingane, the brother of Sen. Joey Filligane of Sumrall, who voted for HB 1523, compared his brother's vote to a stab in the chest.
"I am so sadden by the bill the legislator's passed in Mississippi," said Jonathan in the post. "I have cried several times today due to the fact my brother Joey Fillingane agreed with the ignorant governor."
"I love my brother," Joey said. "I've heard about it (his brother's Facebook post). I've not seen it, but I've heard about it."
Joey compared the legal rights given to business owners in the legislation to those given to a conscientious objector. He said he still "absolutely" stands behind his vote for the bill.
"I'm happy to talk about the merit of that bill all day long because it doesn't do probably 90 percent of what the opponents of it claim that it does," Joey said. "The only thing this bill does in actuality is that if you are a pastor or a church or anyone that is in anyway a part of a wedding business, i.e. a florist, a bakery, a DJ, anybody that would participate in weddings, and if a same-sex couple approaches you as a pastor or as a church about renting your facility, performing your ceremony, baking the cake, etc., you simply can refuse to participate if that is your strongly held religious viewpoint based on that, and not be subject to a lawsuit. That is what the bill does. Beyond that, all these other things that people are conjuring up that they believe that it does, which it doesn't do, is just pure hype. It's not reality."
Fillingane said that the language of the legislation is narrowly tailored to only impact weddings.
"This one is very specific, very narrowly tailored, and it was done so on purpose,' he said. "We didn't want to get into all of these other issues that people are now claiming that it does, which it actually doesn't do."
The Religious Accommodation Bill, which will be law starting July 1, has garnered national attention. Ellen DeGeneres and Ellisville native Lance Bass are among celebrities who have come out against the bill because they say is discriminatory to the LGBT community.
House Rep. Jay Hughes made and effort to repeal the bill Tuesday , but Joey said there wasn't a similar effort in the Senate.
"We had heard rumor that there would be an effort on the Senate side today," he said. "We went into session at 10 o'clock this morning, there were absolutely zero efforts made. in any way associated with that bill. Again, sometimes I think the hype and the reality of the situation maybe are two different things."