Arkansas governor rejects religious freedom bill over gay-discrimination concerns

Move follows the backlash received after an Indiana bill was signed by Mike Pence

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The Independent US

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has asked state lawmakers to make changes to a religious freedom bill before he signs it into law, following concerns that the law would allow discrimination against gays.

The bill had been approved in both the state House and Senate, needing just a signature from the governor to become law, the Associated Press reported.

The basic purpose of the bill is to prevent the government from infringing on the religious beliefs of citizens or business owners, but opponents say it opens the door for discrimination against gays.

A similar bill was signed into law last week by Indiana Governor Mike Pence prompting swift opposition from business leaders, activists and politicians outside the state. Mr Pence has since said that he abhors discrimination and has asked lawmakers in that state for clarification of the law.

Mr Hutchinson similarly has faced pressure since the bill reached his desk, notably from Walmart, the retail behemoth based in the state. He has asked the state legislature either to recall the bill or to make it more similar to a 1993 federal religious freedom law, called the Freedom Restoration Act.

More than a dozen states have religious freedom laws floating around their respective legislatures at the moment and 19 states already have similar laws.


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