HRC Arkansas to Governor Hutchinson: Veto SB202 Now

by HRC Staff

Little Rock-- Today, HRC Arkansas calls on Governor Asa Hutchinson to exercise his executive powers and veto Senate Bill 202 (SB202), which would prohibit municipalities from enacting nondiscrimination ordinances that protect LGBT people. Anti-LGBT Arkansas State Senator Bart Hester is sponsor of SB202, the “Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act”. If SB202 takes effect, Arkansas cities will lose their ability to recruit top talent, compete for quality jobs and welcome many Fortune 500 companies—who support LGBT equality-- to their region.

“The Governor has the power to tell the nation that Arkansas welcomes all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, “said HRC Arkansas State Director Kendra R. Johnson. “Senate Bill 202 destroys local control and denies municipal governments the ability to pass civil rights protections for people in their cities.”

HRC Arkansas has been advocating against this discriminatory piece of legislation since the day it was introduced. ​Recognizing that the bill is motivated by anti-LGBT animus, and would have the effect of preventing non-discrimination protections from being passed on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, HRC Arkansas quickly activated a plan to fight the bill:

  • Engaged HRC’s members and supporters in Arkansas to take action. HRC Arkansas sent an email to members and supporters, which encouraged them to contact their legislators and demand state leaders vote “no” on SB202. Killing the bill allows cities the opportunity to offer critical protections to LGBT people and would also leave local control in local hands.
  • Conversed with Municipal League, State Chamber of Commerce and Mayors. HRC Arkansas proactively participated in dialogue with key stakeholders. In order for Arkansas to spur economic growth, the state must have inclusive living environments for all people. SB202 destroys the ability for municipalities to create safe and fair climates for LGBT people to live, work and raise their families.
  • Arranged for LGBT advocates to speak against bill.  HRC Arkansas lined up legislators to publicly voice their opposition to the legislation in committees, and on the House and Senate floors. These legislators noted the critical importance of moving Arkansas forward, and not to the back of the pack.
  • Increased visibility of bill’s harmful properties in local media.  HRC Arkansas is vocal and visible within the Arkansas media landscape on how the legislation will negatively affect hardworking LGBT Arkansans who simply want to make a living without fear of discrimination.
  • Held face-to-face conversations with lawmakers.  HRC Arkansas continues to engage Arkansas legislators on the importance of creating safer, more inclusive spaces for LGBT people in the Natural State. HRC is aggressively educating, arming and empowering the state’s leaders with information to support the need for LGBT protections in public accommodations, the workplace, and housing.

“Discrimination is not an Arkansas value, and the Governor should take swift, immediate action to veto SB202,” said Johnson. “Governor Hutchinson has said he will not sign the bill and will allow it to become law. That is an indication that even he has pause for concern on this anti-LGBT bill.”

HRC Arkansas is working to advance equality for LGBT Arkansans who have no state or municipal level protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations; legal state recognition for their relationships and families; and state protections from hate crimes. 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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