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. 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marriage."[5] In 2015, the Alabama Supreme Court ordered a halt to the issuing of same-sex marriage licenses,[6] Kansas rescinded an LGBT anti-discrimination order,[7] and Arkansas prohibited anti-discrimination codes being enacted by cities and local governments.[8]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]