Arkansas Passes Religious Freedom Law, Apparently On The Way To Following In Indiana's Footsteps
Despite scathing criticisms of the controversial bills and the growing boycott of the state of Indiana, Arkansas passed a religious freedom law that nearly mimics the one that has faced so much disapproval. The bill passed through the Arkansas Legislature and is on its way to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's desk. Hutchinson has declared he will sign it, effectively putting Arkansas on the exact same level as Indiana, which has seen severe backlash in the form of not only people and companies boycotting the state, but entire other states boycotting Indiana as well.
By all accounts, the Arkansas and Indiana bills are basically the same. If a person or corporation feels that their religious beliefs have been "substantially burdened," they can use that claim as a legal argument to defend themselves when they discriminate — most likely against the LGBT community, but even any other potential customer who fits into the person or business' own description of offending their religion.
It's more than likely that Arkansas will soon face the same kind of backlash and protests that Indiana has seen. Connecticut, Washington, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon, all banned publicly state- and city-funded travel to Indiana, and it will be less than shocking if the same soon happens to Arkansas. Two large companies based in Arkansas — Walmart and Acxiom — have spoken out against the bill. According to Reuters, even the mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas, said:
Any piece of legislation that is so divisive cannot possibly be good for the state of Arkansas and its people. With these kind of "wedge issues," no one is a winner on either side.