Senator pushes back on ‘religious freedom’ law, but chances are slim

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Echoing a House action earlier this week, a Mississippi senator filed a resolution Thursday to allow procedural changes that could lead to repeal of the religious freedom law.

Sen. Deborah Dawkins

Sen. Deborah Dawkins

Sen. Deborah Dawkins, D-Pass Christian, filed the resolution on the Senate floor concerning the law signed last week by Gov. Phil Bryant. Rep. Jay Hughes, D-Oxford, filed a similar resolution in the House of Representatives – which is why Dawkins filed the Senate resolution Thursday.

“There’s just no way to quantify the money and jobs we’re losing because of (the religious freedom law),” Dawkins said. “Most companies do not like to fly into a nest of bees. They want to go somewhere where they’re welcome with open arms. This resolution is just to have all our bases covered because you just never know what’s going to happen.”

Bryant signed the bill that he and other Republican leaders said protects people against punishment for exercising religious beliefs. It allows circuit court clerks and business owners to refuse service to same-sex couples based on religious convictions.

In response, several state and municipal leaders across the nation have banned government-funded travel to Mississippi and some artists have canceled plans to perform here.

The road ahead for both the Senate and House resolutions is long. First, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, R-Florence, and House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, would have to agree to send the resolutions to their respective rules committees. The rules committees would then decide whether to send the bills to the floor. On the floor, two-thirds of members in each house would have to vote to move the repeal forward.

Then, the governor would decide whether to sign it.

“I know the chances of it even getting out of committee are slim, but like I said, you never know what’s going to happen,” Dawkins said. “This had to be done. It just had to be done.”