Mississippi Guts Anti-Gay Segregation Bill After Arizona Controversy

One of the many similar anti-gay segregation bills to Arizona's SB 1062 that have been circulating (and, of late, being withdrawn) is pending in Mississippi, and lawmakers last night struck anti-LGBT discriminatory provisions in the bill, the Mississippi Business Journal reports:

MississippiThe action came on Senate Bill 2681, a measure approved 48-0 on Jan. 31 and sent on to the House. The bill was more popularly known for an amendment that requires inserting “In God We Trust” into the state seal, but a closer examination of it led legal experts to conclude that it would allow private businesses and government entities to discriminate based on religious grounds.

The subcommittee removed a key provision of SB 2681 ahead of Thursday’s consideration of the bill by the House Judiciary Committee B. The provision provides that a defendant in a discrimination lawsuit can assert a claim of defense on the grounds of a burden being placed on religious beliefs.

The ACLU said the provision would allow businesses to turn away customers on religious grounds and government officials to refuse to hire based on religious beliefs.

Seeking to quell the tide of state and national opposition that has grown the past couple of days, the Civil Subcommittee voted to mold the bill after the federal government’s 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The amendment limits the bill to addressing actions by government — not individuals or businesses.