In this photo made Thursday, March 31, 2016, gay-rights supporter Mathew "Skippy" Mauldin holds a flag during rally outside the Capitol in Jefferson City, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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More than 60 businesses including some of Missouri's biggest corporate names joined a coalition opposed to state legislation that would protect businesses objecting on religious grounds to same-sex marriages, the latest sign of a backlash against such proposals across the country.Agricultural giant Monsanto, prescription drug benefits manager Express Scripts, and pet food maker Nestle Purina are among employers to join the recently formed Missouri Competes, according to gay rights advocacy group PROMO, which released the list just hours before a House committee heard testimony from business, sports and religious groups. The formation of the coalition comes amid business pushback to legislation in other states protecting those opposed to gay marriage.Several states and cities have banned travel to Mississippi in response to a law signed by the Republican governor last week to let workers cite religious beliefs to deny services to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.Supporters argue the Missouri law is intentionally narrower than laws passed in other states and is necessary to protect some businesses from being forced to violate religious beliefs.
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