If You’re Buying campaign picking up steam in Bay St. Louis

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - A movement is spreading across the state in response to the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or SB 2681.

Many are worried the law will open the door for business owners to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered customers, claiming religious grounds.

Now, a group of Bay St. Louis business owners are joining forces with businesses across the state of Mississippi to say 'no matter who you are, your business is welcome.' The 'if you're buying, we're selling' campaign is a grassroots movement created by a Jackson business owner.

Jeff White-Perkins is the President of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Lesbian and Gay Community Center, and he says the sticker campaign that launched just a month ago has sky-rocketed into something bigger than he expected.

"On the stickers it says 'we do not discriminate. If you're buying we're selling,' White-Perkins said. "That's what it's about. It's for local business owners in response to the passing of SB 2681."

Martha Whitney Butler is one of those local Hancock County business owners who didn't hesitate to support the idea of the campaign when it was brought to her door by some of her customers.

"I was raised to never, ever discriminate against anybody for any reason at all, and of course I would never deny anyone the right to shop in my store," Butler said.

Annamarie Breault is another business owner in Bay St. Louis, and she says supporting this campaign isn't just for her, but for her community.

"Every small business, you know every customer counts," Breault said. "I don't want to offend anybody to begin with, because every little dollar counts, and if we can all get together as a community and support everybody, it makes us a town that people want to come to."

To White-Perkins, a united community is important, and that is all he wants to see.

"It just makes me happy. It really makes me happy to see that everyone understands, and it's not just about being gay. I mean, anyone can come in and shop whether you're black, white, straight, Muslim, Buddhist, whatever. It just makes me really happy to see it," White-Perkins said.

Proponents of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act say it only mimics a federal statute already in place that says the government cannot put a burden on the religious practices of business owners.

Governor Phil Bryant signed the law back in April, and it takes effect July 1.

If you'd like to be a part of the sticker campaign, you can visit http://www.ifyourebuying.com/.

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