Post submitted by Adam Talbot, former HRC Deputy Communications Director

Today, HRC and HRC Arkansas lauded a letter from top executives at Acxiom—one of Arkansas’ largest employers and a leading generator of tax revenue in the state—to Governor Asa Hutchinson calling on him to veto H.B. 1228. The controversial legislation is almost identical to a similar bill that has generated national condemnation in Indiana and has been denounced by everyone from Apple CEO Tim Cook to the Arkansas Municipal League.

The letter, signed by CEO Scott Howe and Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer Jerry C. Jones, is pointed in its criticism of the bill:

“Simply stated, this bill inflicts pain on some of our citizen and disgrace upon us all. This bill will have the practical effect of excluding parents, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters, friends, and neighbors from pursuing normal, everyday life, that straight citizens take for granted. That is not what Arkansas should stand for; we should be an ever forward-thinking state that strives for tolerance and inclusion of everyone, regardless of their differences.”

HRC President Chad Griffin issued the following statement in response to the letter:

“Acxiom has taken a principled and courageous stand for their employees and for all Arkansans. The letter makes clear that, simply by considering this legislation, Governor Hutchinson has already damaged this great state. Vetoing this destructive bill is essential to guaranteeing that Arkansas truly is open for business.”

The full letter is available here and is reproduced below:

Re: Veto this discriminatory bill

Dear Governor Hutchinson:

On behalf of Acxiom we respectfully request that you veto Arkansas House Bill 1228, the so-called: “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” We understand that you have previously stated that you intend to sign the bill, as amended, but we are hopeful that you will exhibit the courage and leadership necessary to do the right thing and veto this bill.

We are not alone in the belief that the bill is a deliberate vehicle for enabling discrimination against the LGBT community and should not become law, as it effectively re-establishes that shameful period before Civil Rights, when some citizens used religious beliefs as a thinly-veiled justification for discrimination against our fellow citizens.

Simply stated, this bill inflicts pain on some of our citizen and disgrace upon us all. This bill will have the practical effect of excluding parents, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters, friends, and neighbors from pursuing normal, everyday life, that straight citizens take for granted. That is not what Arkansas should stand for; we should be an ever forward-thinking state that strives for tolerance and inclusion of everyone, regardless of their differences.

HB1228 is not wise either from a business perspective – we have seen that it has already created a backlash in the business community of our country and is certain to bring ridicule and derision if it becomes law. This bill is at direct odds with your position that “Arkansas is open for business.”

Please, veto HB1228, it is the right thing to do.

Scott Howe
President and Chief Executive Officer

Jerry C. Jones
Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer


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