The Mississippi House and Senate on
Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a bill which opponents say could
legalize discrimination against gays.
The Mississippi Religious Freedom
Restoration Act (also known as Senate Bill 2681) aims to “provide
that state action or an action by any person based on state action
shall not burden a person's right to the exercise of religion.”
Democratic State Senator Derrick
Simmons has repeatedly said that the proposed legislation would allow
discrimination in Mississippi.
“I urge you not to legalize
discrimination in the State of Mississippi,” Simmons told
colleagues debating the bill.
“I believe certainly by the way that
this bill is drafted that it will allow discrimination in
Mississippi,” he said. “There is nothing in the proposed
legislation that prohibits that.”
The ACLU said in a statement that the
measure “could allow individuals and businesses to bring challenges
against what they view as substantial government burdens against
religion, including challenging existing nondiscrimination laws.”
After a loud outcry, Arizona Governor
Jan Brewer in February vetoed a similar bill.
However, Mississippi Governor Phil
Bryant, a Republican, is expected to sign the bill into law.