A group of 35 business leaders — including restaurant owners and professionals spread across the state — have signed onto a letter in opposition to state Rep. Mike Johnson’s proposed “Marriage and Conscience Act.”

The legislation, which would carve out protections for business owners who oppose same-sex marriage, has drawn a sharp backlash and sparked concern among some company executives, including IBM, who worry that it could encourage discrimination against gay people.

Johnson, a Bossier City Republican who has launched a campaign in defense of his bill, told The Advocate this week that he’s hoping it will get a committee hearing next week or the following week.

Meanwhile, The New York Times published a Letter to the Editor from New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu this week, also slamming the proposal.

” Most Louisianans believe that discrimination in any form should not be tolerated. In fact, New Orleans passed its own law in 1999 to reflect that principle, ensuring that people cannot be discriminated against because of sexual orientation or gender identification,” Landrieu wrote.

Gov. Bobby Jindal has come out as a vocal supporter of the bill, which was the only measure he individually referenced during his State of the State speech opening the legislative session last month.

He recently penned an op-ed, also published in the New York Times, that advocated support for the proposal.