Arkansas Governor Demands Changes To Religious Freedom Bill
Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas announced at a press conference Wednesday that he would not sign the religious freedom bill brought forward by lawmakers until modifications were made to emphasize that discrimination would not be tolerated under the new law.
Hutchinson added that the changes would need to mirror a federal law, called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, to clarify that the legislation would not allow businesses to refuse service to certain groups -- namely members of the LGBT community -- based on religious beliefs.
The move comes as a surprise to many since the Republican governor had previously expressed support for the bill, and since it comes just one day after Indiana Governor Mike Pence publicly announced that changes would be made to his state's similar religious freedom act in light of nationwide backlash against it.
"We wanted to have it crafted similar to what is at the federal level," said Hutchinson, according to CNN. "To do that, though, changes need to be made. The bill that is on my desk at the present time does not precisely mirror the federal law."
Both the Arkansas and Indiana laws would allow businesses to cite religious beliefs as a defense in court, sparking allegations that they would make it easier for businesses to discriminate against certain groups.