New Arkansas RFRA Falls Short

Affiliate: ACLU of Arkansas
April 1, 2015 12:00 am

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Arkansas
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New Language Leaves Vulnerable Critical Laws Protecting Against Discrimination

April 1, 2015

CONTACT: Rita Sklar, ACLU of Arkansas, 501-960-5036,

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Lawmakers in Arkansas today introduced SB 975, an attempt to improve upon HB 1228, which was rightly seen by Arkansans and Americans across the country as an attempt to use religion to discriminate.

This followed a recommendation from Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who, at a press conference yesterday, acknowledged the significant flaws with HB 1228, a bill that closely resembled controversial Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The new bill, SB 975, still fails to protect against the potential use of religion to avoid laws that protect Arkansans from harm, such as nondiscrimination laws.

The move followed strong opposition from local businesses, including Walmart CEO Doug McMillan, who warned that HB 1228 would undermine the state’s spirit of inclusion. The updated version of the will go immediately to Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s desk to be signed into law.

The following comment may be attributed to Rita Sklar, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas:

"While we are grateful that Governor Hutchinson listened to the loud outcry in opposition to HB 1228, this new proposal falls far short of ensuring that this law cannot be used to discriminate against or harm anyone within our state. I encourage the legislature and the governor to work together to improve this proposal now."

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