'License to Discriminate' Bill Advances in Mississippi

A committee moves the bill to consideration by the full House, and opponents say an amended version still provides ample opportunity for discrimination.

BY Trudy Ring

March 04 2014 10:31 PM ET

A Mississippi House subcommittee today advanced a so-called religious freedom bill, which opponents say is actually gives business owners license to discriminate against LGBT people and members of religions other than their own.

The House Judiciary B Committee approved the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act, sending it to the full House for consideration, the Associated Press reports. The State Senate has already passed a different version of the bill.

A House subcommittee earlier changed the language in the bill in an attempt to make it more palatable to civil rights activists and less like the legislation vetoed last week in Arizona, but LGBT and liberal groups say the bill is still deeply flawed.

“While that new language would preserve the rights of businesses to enact non-discrimination policies, it would not prevent them from also enacting discriminatory policies where a ‘sincerely held religious belief’ was present,” reports the online publication Deep South Progressive.

Several Mississippi State University students demonstrated against the bill today at the state capitol. “It opens that door wide enough that anyone with a genuinely held religious belief is permitted to discriminate on any grounds without worry that the state might intervene,” one of them, L.B. Wilson, told the AP.

MoveOn.org has an online petition opposing the bill, and the American Civil Liberties Union’s Mississippi affiliate has more information here.
 

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