Arkansas HB 1228

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Arkansas HB 1228, also known as the Conscience Protection Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, is a law in the state of Arkansas that aims to increase "judicial scrutiny" in cases involving religious beliefs.[clarification needed] Opponents of the law say that it will allow for lawful discrimination of LGBT people.[1][2] On March 31, 2015, the law was passed by the Arkansas Senate.[3] The next day, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that he would not sign the bill as written, instructing the legislature to make changes to the bill's language. [4] The final version was passed and signed into law as Act 975.

Background[edit]

Politifact reports that "Conservatives in Indiana and elsewhere see the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as a vehicle for fighting back against the legalization of same-sex marriage."[5] In 2015, the Alabama Supreme Court ordered a halt to the issuing of same-sex marriage licenses,[6] Kansas rescinded an LGBT anti-discrimination order,[7] and Arkansas prohibited anti-discrimination codes being enacted by cities and local governments.[8]

The bill was sponsored by Republican state representative Bob Ballinger[9] and Republican state Senator Bart Hester.[10]

Reaction[edit]

Walmart, Apple, and Acxiom have publicly criticized the law, which is similar to Indiana SB 101, a law passed in Indiana a few days earlier.[11][12] Walmart CEO Doug McMillon called on Governor Hutchinson to veto the legislation.[13]

Hundreds of protesters rallied at Arkansas' Capitol to oppose the bill.[14]

Similar bills in other states[edit]

A similar bill in Georgia has stalled, with constituents expressing concern to Georgia lawmakers about the financial impacts of such a bill.[15][16][17] A meeting on the bill was cancelled.[18] Supporters of the bill have stated that the bill would be "gutted" by the inclusion of anti-discrimination clause.[19] The convention industry in Georgia has stated that a $15 million business could be at risk of boycotts.[15]

After the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. decision, the definition of religious beliefs has expanded from the beliefs of individual employees to the practices of closely held for-profit corporations.[20] Georgia State Rep. Stacey Evans, R-Smryna, proposed an amendment to change references of "persons" to "individuals," which would have eliminated corporations from the protection of the bill. State Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem, noted that such a move would negate the "closely held corporation" protection granted last year by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby case. The amendment was rejected.[15]

Texas SJR 10 and HJR 55 plan to introduce a similar bill that changes the language from "substantially burden" to "burden".[21] The Texas Business Association voted to oppose the bills.[22] Molly White introduced a bill that would expressly grant private businesses the right to “refuse to provide goods or services to any person based on a sincerely held religious belief or on conscientious grounds.”

A similar bill in North Carolina has stalled, with commentators predicting a backlash similar to Indiana's.[23][24]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Whites-Koditschek, Sarah (March 31, 2015). "Constitutional Law Expert John DiPippa Explains HB1228". KUAR. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  2. ^ "Arkansas House approves 'religious freedom' bill". Jurist paperchase. 1 Apr 2015.
  3. ^ "Emergency meeting calling Gov. Hutchinson to veto HB 1228". KATV. March 29, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  4. ^ Liebelson, Dana (April 1, 2015). "Arkansas Governor Says He Won't Sign 'Religious Freedom' Bill Until Changes Are Made". Huffington Post. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  5. ^ "Did Barack Obama vote for Religious Freedom Restoration Act with 'very same' wording as Indiana's?". Politifact. March 29, 2015.
  6. ^ "Alabama high court orders halt to same-sex marriage licenses". Reuters. March 4, 2015.
  7. ^ "Kansas governor rescinds executive order protecting LGBT employees". Jurist Paper Chase. February 11, 2015.
  8. ^ "Arkansas bill prohibiting local anti-discrimination ordinances becomes law". Jurist Paper Chase. February 24, 2015.
  9. ^ Hartmann, Margaret (April 1, 2015). "Why Arkansas Lawmakers Claim They Need a Religious Freedom Law". New York. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  10. ^ "Senator Bart Hester (R)". Arkansas State Legislature. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  11. ^ Liebelson, Dana; Bendery, Jennifer (March 31, 2015). "Arkansas Legislature Copies Indiana, Passes Controversial Religious Freedom Bill". Huffington Post. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  12. ^ Berr, Jonathan (March 31, 2015). "Companies attack Arkansas religious freedom bill". CBS Money Watch. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  13. ^ "Walmart Asks Arkansas Governor To Veto Religion Freedom Bill". Huffington Post. Reuters. March 31, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  14. ^ "Fight over religious objection proposals shifts to Arkansas". March 31, 2015.
  15. ^ a b c "'Religious liberty' bill takes a sharp rightward turn, convention industry says $15 million in business at risk". Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog). March 26, 2015.
  16. ^ "Georgia House Committee Tables 'Religious Liberty' Bill". 90.1 FM WABE. March 26, 2015.
  17. ^ "LGBT rights amendment proves to be 'poison pill' for Georgia's 'religious freedom' bill". Raw Story. March 27, 2015.
  18. ^ "Meeting on 'religious liberty' bill's fate canceled". Atlanta Journal Constitution. March 29, 2015.
  19. ^ "'Religious liberty' effort is only mostly dead. Keep your eye on HB 59". Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog). March 27, 2015.
  20. ^ "Apple's Tim Cook 'deeply disappointed' in Indiana's anti-gay law". CNN Money. March 27, 2015.
  21. ^ "The Texas-Sized Anti-Gay Backlash". The Daily Beast. March 29, 2015.
  22. ^ Bobby Cervantes (March 30, 2015). "Texas 'religious freedom' measures face uncertain future". Houston Chronicle.
  23. ^ "Indiana to clarify 'religious freedom' law, Georgia, N.C. bills stall". Reuters. March 30, 2015.
  24. ^ "NC 'religious freedom' legislation courts Indiana-type controversy". WRAL. March 30, 2015.

External links[edit]