House Bill 1523 supports business’ right to refuse service on the basis of religious beliefs. However, the more vocal businesses in Hattiesburg disagree with this bill.
The Mahogany Bar has received attention for posting a sign on its front door reading, “Through these doors, all are welcome, all are appreciated and all are loved.”
“We have gotten a little attention because we posted the signs on our doors,” said Jared Patterson, a Mahogany Bar employee. “It’s how we’ve felt always, not because this law has become a thing. We’ve always felt that everyone is loved — our employees and customers.”
Facebook users showed their support in the comments of a photo The Mahogany Bar posted.
“It’s discriminatory, people have a right to choose,” said Landa Oglesby, owner of Landa’s Sweet Bakery.
Oglesby said she is preparing strawberries for a same-sex couple’s upcoming wedding.
Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree voiced his own concerns about the bill.
“This law is not representative of the thousands of Mississippians who have dedicated their lives to promoting a diverse community and workforce,” DuPree said.
The Lotus Downtown owner Leigh Baugh also said the bill is discriminatory.
“I wouldn’t want to treat anyone any different than how I would want to be treated,” Baugh said. “I would never turn anyone away, especially a paying customer. We locals all support each other.”
Other businesses chimed in on the bill.
“Whoever calls us, we don’t care,” said Trae Griffin, owner of Trazy Productions, a DJ service. “We’re out to serve anyone who wants a DJ or entertainment.”
Marlin’s Bar and Grill posted their reaction to the bill on their Facebook page on April 3.
“In the wake of the ‘Religious Freedom’ bill, Marlin’s would like to ensure our community that we look forward to serving each and every one of you, regardless of your personal lifestyle preferences,” the post read. “We have always emphasized Peace, Love & Marlin’s and will continue to do so. We have made mistakes in the past, like every young small business has, but we have ALWAYS strived to be the best we can be for our customers and our team members. You have been patient and generous with us, and for that, we can’t thank you enough. We love you, Hattiesburg. And we love you, Mississippians, just the way you are.”
Local business Eve Marie’s Boutique’s April Bullock promised business to everyone as well.
“Myself and my business welcome everyone no matter what,” Bullock said. “We’re a local business and if locals want to support us we welcome that. “