The southern US state of Mississippi is a signature away from having laws that will permit businesses to turn away gays.
Supporters of Senate Bill 2681, called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, argue the proposal only keeps the state from administrating harsh burdens on the faithful.
‘It protects Christians in the state from discrimination,’ Representative Andy Gipson, a Republican and Baptist pastor, told his House colleagues, according to the Mississippi Press.
The Human Rights Campaign maintains the bill ‘fails to prohibit discrimination against customers based on business owners’ personal religious beliefs.’
According to HRC, the legislation would allow pharmacists to decline providing HIV and hormone replacement therapy drugs. Restaurants, inns, and hotels could deny service to LGBTI families/couples celebrating an anniversary or adoption.
‘While there were many efforts to correct the clearly problematic elements of this legislation, the bill still has the effect of making LGBT people strangers to the law,’ HRC State Legislative Director Sarah Warbelow said in a statement.
The state House passed the legislation 79-43; in the Senate the vote 37-14.
On 31 March, Governor Phil Bryant, a Republican, indicated he would sign the bill.