Arkansas legislature passes a religious freedom bill

Arkansas legislature passes a religious freedom bill
(Image via littlerock.com)

Despite intensifying criticism from business leaders both within and outside of Arkansas, the state legislature on Tuesday passed its version of a measure billed as a religious freedom law, joining Indiana in a swirl of controversy that shows little sign of calming.

The Arkansas bill, passed when the General Assembly concurred on three amendments from the State Senate, now goes to the state’s Republican governor, Asa Hutchinson, who expressed reservations about an earlier bill but more recently said he would sign the measure if it “reaches my desk in similar form as to what has been passed in 20 other states.” The Arkansas Senate passed the measure last week. …

Business resistance in both states continued to grow, with Gap and Levi Strauss joining Walmart, Apple, Yelp and other major corporations in expressing disapproval. On Monday, the chief executive of Acxiom, a marketing technology company based in Little Rock that employs nearly 1,600 statewide, urged the Arkansas governor to veto a bill that was “a deliberate vehicle for enabling discrimination.”

Angie’s List cited the Indiana law in canceling plans to expand its facilities in Indianapolis. Celebrities have ridiculed the law, entertainers have canceled tour dates in the state because of it, a gaming convention is considering going elsewhere, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York on Tuesday became the latest governor to impose a ban on state-funded travel to Indiana, joining his counterparts in Connecticut and Washington.

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