Mississippi state Senator Jenifer Branning last week defended a so-called religious freedom bill approved by lawmakers that broadly protects opponents of marriage equality.

House Bill 1523 would protect individuals – a broad category which could include certain businesses – who act on their religious objections to marriage equality and transgender people. It would protect people who believe that “sexual relations are properly reserved” for married heterosexual couples and that a person's sex is “objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.”

During an appearance on Bryan Fischer's Focal Point radio show, Branning, who introduced the bill in the Senate, said that the bill was needed because “people of faith are under attack.”

“It's a very important piece of legislation in our state,” Branning said. “And the reason that I know that is, all you have to do is read the news. You see what's going on across our nation. People of faith in our nation are under attack.”

She added that the bill's references to gender identity were needed to protect doctors from being forced to perform sex change operations.

“That protects people in the medical profession,” she said. “Those people that have sincerely-held religious beliefs that you are the gender identity with which you were born, those individuals would not be forced to have to participate in a sex change operation or related procedures.”

Branning said in a now-deleted Facebook post that the bill presents “a solution to the crossroads we find ourselves in today as a result of Obergefell v. Hodges. Ministers, florists, photographers, people along those lines – this bill would allow them to refuse provide marriage-related business services without fear of government discrimination.”