As Arizona governor Jan Brewer was vetoing a “license to discriminate” bill in her state Wednesday, Mississippi lawmakers moved to water down similar legislation pending there — legislation that has been denounced by a well-known gay Mississippi native, Lance Bass.
The Mississippi House of Representatives Civil Subcommittee late Wednesday removed a key provision of the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act that would allow defendants in discrimination suits legal cover to claim that the alleged discrimination was based on their religious beliefs, the Mississippi Business Journal reports. As in other states, critics of such legislation had noted that this would allow business owners to refuse service to LGBT people, members of other religions, and other groups. The language could be restored as the bill makes it through the legislative process.
The House Judiciary B Committee discussed the bill briefly today but took no action, reports The Clarion Ledger of Jackson. Members will probably take it up Monday or Tuesday. The State Senate passed the original measure unanimously January 31.
In an email circulated today by the Human Rights Campaign, former ’N Sync member Bass spoke out against the legislation. “This bill doesn’t represent the Mississippi I knew growing up,” he wrote. “It doesn’t represent the folks I went to church with every Sunday with my parents and my sister. And it certainly doesn’t reflect the Golden Rule I learned about sitting in those pews — a simple moral code that says we should treat others the way we would want to be treated ourselves.”