The Latest: Evangelist Franklin Graham speaks in Mississippi


COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The Latest on legislation that critics say discriminates against transgender people by limiting their bathroom choices. Supporters say it protects privacy and safety. (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

Evangelist Franklin Graham brought his state capitol prayer rally tour to Mississippi in the wake of lawmakers passing a bill that would let churches and some private businesses deny services to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Graham said Wednesday he didn’t come to Jackson to endorse or oppose any particular legislation, but he made it clear to reporters after the 40-minute rally that he supports legislation to allow Christians to live out their faith, and in his view that includes disapproval of same-sex marriages.

The son of Billy Graham is telling people who attend the rallies that Christians need to get more involved in politics and bring Biblical principles to public office. He says Christians must push back against secularism, which he describes as the “enemy.”


1:45 p.m.

Transgender people say a South Carolina bill requiring them to use a public bathroom corresponding to their “biological sex” puts them in danger of harassment and violence, while supporters contend it protects children’s safety.

The overwhelming majority of people attending a Senate hearing Wednesday opposed the measure that mimics part of a North Carolina law that has brought a national backlash.

Sponsoring Sen. Lee Bright says he fears pedophiles will pretend to be transgender to gain access to potential victims. Opponents say existing laws already address such a crime.

Several transgender people asked Bright whether it made sense to force them to use bathrooms that don’t line up with their identity.

Chase Glenn says women would not want him in their restroom, while Capri Culpepper says requiring her to go into a man’s restroom puts her at risk.


1:20 p.m.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has issued an executive order banning discrimination in state government based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

He also rescinded his Republican predecessor’s order offering protections to people who oppose same-sex marriage.

Edwards, a Democrat, released the order Wednesday.

It prohibits state agencies and contractors from harassment or discrimination based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, political affiliation disability, or age. The order includes an exemption for contractors that are religious organizations.

The provision affecting contractors takes effect July 1. The rest starts immediately.

In the non-discrimination order, Edwards also terminated an executive order from former Gov. Bobby Jindal. That order prohibited state agencies from denying licenses and contracts to businesses that take actions because of religious beliefs against same-sex marriage.


12:05 p.m.

Dozens of business leaders have signed a letter asking Tennessee lawmakers to kill a piece of legislation known as the transgender bathroom bill.

The CEOs of Williams-Sonoma, Airbnb, Alcoa, T-Mobile and Dow Chemical were among the 60 business leaders who signed the letter and said the proposal has no place in Tennessee.

A group of advocates for lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people dropped off a letter to House Speaker Beth Harwell and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, both Republicans.

Under the measure, students at public schools and universities would be required to use bathrooms and locker rooms assigned to their gender at birth. Supporters say it protects the privacy of students and the rights of everyone. Opponents call it discriminatory.


5:10 a.m.

A South Carolina bill limiting transgender people’s bathroom choices is up for discussion a week after Republican Gov. Nikki Haley and state business leaders called the proposal unnecessary.

People are expected to pack a Senate hearing on the bill Wednesday, though the subcommittee is unlikely to take any vote. Its chairman, Sen. Lee Bright, introduced the measure last week, saying he supports a North Carolina law that’s led to companies ending expansion plans in the state and conventions going elsewhere.

Bright said he’s had enough of tolerance if that means “men who claim to be women” going into a bathroom with children.

State Chamber of Commerce CEO Ted Pitts says Bright’s creating a nonexistent political crisis to save his political career. Bright faces three GOP opponents in June.


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