NAACP chairman emeritus and civil rights icon Julian Bond on Thursday criticized an Arkansas bill which opponents claim would allow businesses to refuse service to gay men and lesbians.

The bill, titled the Conscience Protection Act (HB 1228), is being championed by Rep. Bob Ballinger in the House and Senator Bart Hester in the Senate, both of whom are Republicans.

The House approved the bill in February and it cleared a Senate committee earlier this week.

Governor Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, supports the measure, which would prohibit the state from burdening a person's exercise of religion.

“H.B. 1228 in Akansas opens the door to a hateful past that some had thought this country had left behind,” Bond wrote in a statement. “This legislation cloaks discrimination in the guise of religion – and it will mark people of color, LGBT Arkansans, religious minorities and women as second class citizens. Governor Hutchinson has a duty and a moral obligation to veto this legislation or the the ghosts of the past will haunt his legacy.”

On Thursday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a similar bill.