Arkansas Governor Asks State Legislature To Rework "Religious Freedom" Act
April 1, 2015 #gay #lgbt
By AlexKelst

Today, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson held a press conference in which he asked state lawmakers to rework the "religious freedom" bill that recently was passed by the state legislature. While the governor has previously stated that he would sign such a "religious freedom" bill into law, his request is a sign of the backlash that could result in his signing the bill into law, akin to what is currently being dealt to Indiana after it passed a similar law last week.

Governor Hutchinson requested that Arkansas' version of the bill be changed to become essentially identical to a similar law that already passed at the federal level back in 1993. The press conference and request by the governor is no doubt a reaction to pressure from interests as diverse as Walmart, America's largest employer and headquartered in the state, as well as the governor's own son. Even presumed Democratic presidential candidate (and, it should be said, wife of former Arkansas Governor, President Bill Clinton) Hillary Clinton has chimed in.

Opponents of such "religious freedom" laws claim that these laws serve no other purpose than as an aid in discrimination against against LGBT people. Proponents of the laws believe that their religious liberties must be further, and more explicitly, protected and that the law would not encourage anti-gay discrimination. Governor Hutchinson went as far to say criticisms of the law were based on a "perception problem."

That said, according to reporting by The New York Times, 12 states have seen legislation introduced for "religious freedom" similar to those that have passed in Indiana and now Arkansas. These laws are generally more expansive than the "religious freedom" laws that already exist in 20 other states.

It should be noted that neither Indiana nor Arkansas, nor many other states across the nation, currently have state-wide protections against discrimination for LGBT people.

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