AT&T and Dow Chemical are among the companies opposed to passage of a “religious freedom” bill in West Virginia.

The West Virginia House of Delegates last week overwhelmingly approved the proposal, sending it to the Senate.

Supporters of the West Virginia Religious Freedom Restoration Act (HB 4012) argue that it's needed to protect the free exercise of religion.

The bill states that the state “may not substantially burden a person's right to exercise of religion” without a “compelling interest.”

Some backers have directly linked the bill to gay rights.

The constitution “doesn't guarantee anyone's right to have any particular kind of lifestyle or behavior protected,” said House Majority Whip John O'Neal, a Republican from Raleigh,”but it guarantees the free exercise of religion. That freedom has been severely curtailed in recent years with the growth of gay rights and mandated contraception coverage under Obamacare, among other things.”

(Related: West Virginia Republican John O'Neal: Christians can lose their businesses over “who they love.”)

AT&T spokesman Daniel Langan told the AP: “Legislation that would permit discrimination against any of our employees or customers conflicts with our core values.”

Other companies opposed to the bill include Dow Chemical Co., West Virginia American Water, Charleston and Morgantown chambers of commerce, the Huntington visitors bureau and the Marriott and Embassy Suites in Charleston.