Arkansas Senate Passes Indiana-Style H.B. 1228, Governor Hutchinson Must Veto Discriminatory Bill

by HRC Staff

Anti-LGBT legislation bound for governor’s desk as the nation watches, tech sector condemns bill, and the lives of countless Arkansans hang in the balance

LITTLE ROCK— Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and HRC Arkansas condemned the Arkansas senate’s passage of H.B. 1228, an Indiana-style bill that will open the door to discrimination against LGBT people, people of color, religious minorities, women and other minority groups across the state. After a formal procedural hurdle, the bill will be on its way to Governor Asa Hutchinson’s desk. HRC has repeatedly called on the governor to veto this legislation, including at a press conference featuring HRC president Chad Griffin yesterday.

“This bill is a poison pill for jobs and investment in the state of Arkansas, and Governor Hutchinson has a duty to veto it,” said HRC President and Arkansas native Chad Griffin following the Senate vote. “If he does not, his reputation will be forever stained and the people of the state of Arkansas will suffer for his willingness to cater to a small political faction whose sole intent is to discriminate against their fellow Arkansans.”

The bill has been opposed by Wal-Mart, Apple, and the Arkansas Municipal League for weeks. Yesterday, following the enactment of a similar bill in Indiana, a wave of high-tech companies like Yelp and Salesforce—precisely the kinds of investment Governor Hutchinson has said he hopes to attract to the state—have condemned this kind of legislation.

Additionally, civil rights legend Julian Bond issued a statement late yesterday explicitly condemning the Arkansas legislation:

"H.B. 1228 in Arkansas opens the door to a hateful past that some had thought this country had left behind. This legislation cloaks discrimination in the guise of religion--and it will mark people of color, LGBT Arkansans, religious minorities and women as second class citizens. Governor Hutchinson has a duty and a moral obligation to veto this legislation or the ghosts of the past will haunt his legacy."

At a press conference in Little Rock yesterday, HRC announced that the organization will run a full-page ad in the San Jose Mercury News spotlighting pending legislation in Arkansas targeting LGBT people and religious minorities. The ad will run Sunday, noting if Governor Hutchinson allows the bill to become law, he will be ignoring the opposition of employers like Apple, Wal-Mart and other companies who opposed the legislation. A digital version of the ad will also begin running today on various tech websites and will soon start running on the digital properties of the Wall Street Journal.

In addition, Griffin delivered a formal invitation to Governor Hutchinson to travel with him to New York City next Tuesday to attend a gathering of more than 250 C-suite executives of Fortune 500 companies and other major businesses—corporations whose investment potential collectively totals in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Each of these companies has scored a 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI)—demonstrating their core commitment to treating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees fairly and equally under the law.

 “It’s not too late for Governor Hutchinson to stop this job-killing bill and build a legacy of attracting forward-looking, high-paying jobs to Arkansas,” Griffin said. “If he does not, there will be no turning back from the damage done to my home state.”

HRC Arkansas is working to advance equality for LGBT Arkansans who have no state or municipal level protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations; and legal state recognition for their relationships and families. Through HRC Arkansas, we are working toward a future of fairness every day—changing hearts, minds and laws toward achieving full equality.

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