The Arkansas House on Tuesday gave its
final approval to a bill which supporters say protects religious
freedom but critics argue targets the LGBT community.
The measure, HB 1228, seeks to prohibit
any state and local laws that “substantially burden” a person's
ability to follow his or her religious beliefs without a “compelling”
interest. The bill defines a “person” to include a company or
The measure now heads to the desk of
Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson, who has pledged his signature.
The bill is similar to the one that has
drawn national attention in Indiana.
Critics argue that in the absence of
protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity both
bills open the door to discrimination against members of the LGBT
Arkansas' measure cleared its final
legislative hurdle on the same day that Republican Indiana Governor
Mike Pence said he wanted a “fix” to his state's bill on his desk
within a week.
Pence calls for “fix” to “religious freedom” bill; remains
opposed to LGBT protections.)