News

Arkansas governor wants religious freedom bill recalled, won’t sign in present form

Demonstrators attend a rally on the steps of the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., Tuesday, March 31, 2015, in protest of a bill that passed in the state House that critics say will lead to discrimination against gays and lesbians.
Demonstrators attend a rally on the steps of the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., Tuesday, March 31, 2015, in protest of a bill that passed in the state House that critics say will lead to discrimination against gays and lesbians. Danny Johnston, AP

[ Previous ]

Opponents of the law were encouraged by Hutchinson’s comments.

“What’s clear is the governor has been listening,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights group. Now opponents have to “keep the pressure on,” he said.

Conservative groups that sought the measure questioned the need for any changes.

“I’m very puzzled at this point to see why the bill would need to be amended at this late date, considering everybody in the chamber has had a chance to see it,” said Jerry Cox, head of the Arkansas Family Council. “I think it’s been thoroughly vetted, and it’s a good law.”

In Indiana, Republican legislative leaders huddled behind closed doors for hours with Pence, business executives and other lawmakers, but did not come to an agreement on how to clarify the law.

House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long indicated they hope to have language ready for possible votes Thursday.

The Indianapolis Star, which obtained a draft of the proposed language, reported that it would specify that the law cannot be used as a legal defense for refusing to provide services, goods or accommodations based on a person’s sexual orientation.

Article continues below

Also in Indianapolis, the NCAA faced a decision about whether to call for next year’s women’s Final Four to find a new venue.

The NCAA was among the first sports organizations to express concern with the law when Pence signed it, and many others have followed, including the NFL, the NBA and NASCAR.

The men’s Final Four is in Indianapolis this weekend and could not have been moved on short notice. But officials have made it clear there is enough time to consider relocating future events.

Video of Hutchinson’s news conference is here

© 2015, Associated Press, All Rights Reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Texas GOP budget proposal cuts $3 million in HIV funds, boosts abstinence education

Previous article

Backlash intensifies as businesses, performers, states boycott Indiana over religious freedom law

Next article