State Rep. Andy Gipson (R-Braxton), a Mississippi legislator and Baptist minister, has revealed that he and his family have been receiving death threats after he posted a Facebook comment citing a Bible passage that says homosexual acts were punishable by death.
Gipson has since written a statement to news station WLBT-TV clarifying that he has "never publicly or privately called for the killing of any people. I believe all people are created in the image of God and I stand firmly on the sanctity of all human life. All people are entitled to the protection of the laws of our nation and state protecting human life."
"Any reasonable person who reads the actual post can see that both scriptures were cited only for the proposition that same-sex marriage is morally objectionable -- sin. I believe this reflects the values of the vast majority of Mississippians and the people of District 77 whom I represent," the statement adds.
Gipson's Facebook page has since been disabled for "suspicious activity," the legislator explained, but the comment that stirred the controversy was a May 10 post he put up on the social networking site that read:
"Been a lot of press on Obama's opinion on 'homosexual marriage.' The only opinion that counts is God's: see Romans 1:26-28 and Leviticus 20:13. Anyway you slice it, it is sin. Not to mention horrific social policy."
The Leviticus passage reads: "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."
The issue refers to President Barack Obama's recent endorsement of same-sex marriage, which has stirred a storm of criticism from conservative leaders from around the nation.
Some members of the public angry at Gipson's biblical reference immediately started a petition on Change.com calling on the legislator to apologize for his comments and meet with representatives of gay and lesbian organizations in Mississippi, MSNBC reported. The Baptist minister, however, dismissed the suggestion.
"I do not, cannot, and will not apologize for the inspired truth of God's Word," Gipson said in response to the Change.org petition.
The lawmaker's refusal to apologize has apparently angered same-sex marriage supporters even further; Gipson has claimed that he has received death threats against himself and his family by phone and email. The authorities were reportedly investigating his claims.