NC House Democratic Caucus starts petition against "religious freedom" bill

NC House Democratic Caucus starts petition against "religious freedom" bill

RALEIGH, NC (WECT) - Members of North Carolina's House Democratic Caucus are circulating a petition against a bill members say would “effectively legalize discrimination and allow individual businesses to target and deny services to members of the LGBT community.”

House Bill 348, called the NC Religious Freedom Restoration Act, was filed last week and currently awaiting debate in the House Judiciary IV Committee. Supporters believe the bill protects the rights of business owners from carrying out laws they say burden their exercise of religion.

“There is simply no place for discriminatory legislation like HB 348 if North Carolina wants to continue to grow, protect its reputation nationally and recruit major companies to locate here,” says a post on the House Democratic Caucus website. “The time to stop this hateful legislation is now. That is why we are calling on Speaker Tim Moore to publicly announce that HB 348 will not be heard in committee and will not be voted on in the North Carolina House.”

Both state House Speaker Moore and Gov. Pat McCrory have raised concerns. Moore told reporters on Tuesday the bill should not move through the House unless it “improves North Carolina's brand”.  McCrory said in a radio interview this week that he has yet to see the problems that the bill's sponsors want to correct.

To see the petition from the House Democratic Caucus click here:

To read the text of House Bill 348 click here:

The issue has received national attention because of a similar version of the Religious Freedom law in Indiana, the state hosting this weekend's NCAA Final Four men's basketball tournament. Governors in New York and Connecticut have banned all state-funded travel to Indiana because of the law, and coaches involved in the men's national semifinals have come out against the law.

Copyright 2015 WECT. The Associated Press contributed material to this report.