On April 2, 2015, the Arkansas legislature passed and Governor Asa Hutchinson signed legislation that improves the disastrous H.B. 1228 but falls short of providing needed non-discrimination protections to all Arkansans. Though an improvement, the legislation can still be used as a weapon to discriminate against LGBT people, people of color, minority faiths, women and other Arkansans at risk. The earlier legislation, H.B. 1228, is still on Governor Hutchinson’s desk, and HRC calls on the Arkansas House to recall that hateful bill immediately. HRC also calls on Governor Hutchinson to make good on his suggestion and issue an executive order protecting state employees from discrimination.
The Governor’s bill comes as civil rights leaders, organizations and corporations have spoken out against the bill, including Apple and its CEO Tim Cook; Acxiom, one of Arkansas largest employers; Arkansas-based Wal-Mart; Yelp; PayPal; the Arkansas Municipal League and the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The wave of anti-LGBT bills filed across the country continues to swell, and currently, there are more than 100 anti-LGBT bills in 28 state legislatures. Click here to learn more.
In an unprecedented effort to bring equality to Arkansas, HRC launched Project One America, a comprehensive campaign to dramatically expand LGBT equality in the South through permanent campaigns in Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas. Project One America is the first of its kind campaign to work exclusively in Arkansas - where there are no non-discrimination protections for LGBT people at the state or local level in employment, housing or public accomidations, and where the state's constitution expressly prohibits marriage equality.
Click Here to Voice Your Support or text ONEARKANSAS to 30644 to join us.
In 2014, HRC undertook the largest survey of its kind to date on the needs, experiences, and priorities of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Arkansas.
The results show that LGBT Arkansans are just like their friends and family members—living, working, volunteering, and going to church within their communities. However, LGBT people also face daunting amounts of harassment and discrimination and enjoy no legal protections at either the local or state level.
The marriage equality landscape is rapidly changing in Arkansas. On May 9, 2014, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza struck down Arkansas’s ban on same-sex marriages. On May 16, the state Supreme Court suspended marriages while state officials' appeal. During the week in which same-sex marriages were allowed, more than 450 Arkansas same-sex couples married. For more updates on the case, click here.