Another Indiana-style religious freedom measure is now one signature away from becoming law.
Arkansas’ Republican-controlled House of Representatives gave its final stamp of approval Tuesday to House Bill 1228, otherwise known as the the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), according to KARK. It now heads to the desk of the state’s Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who said last week that he would sign the bill.
Wal-Mart, which is headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas, came out strongly against the legislation and urged Hutchinson to veto it.
“Every day, in our stores, we see firsthand the benefits of diversity and inclusion have on our associates, customers and communities we serve,” CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement posted on Twitter. “It all starts with our core basic belief of respect for the individual. Today’s passage of HB1228 threatens to undermine the spirit of inclusion present throughout the state of Arkansas and does not reflect the values we proudly uphold. For these reasons, we are asking Governor Hutchinson to veto this legislation.”
Arkansas’ legislation is nearly identical to Indiana’s RFRA, which has become the subject of widespread condemnation from businesses, organizations, celebrities and politicians. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has insisted that the law would not license discrimination against LGBT people, but critics say otherwise. Earlier Tuesday, Pence said he wanted to clarify the law to make clear that it does not give businesses the right to deny services to anyone.
Hundreds of people have urged Hutchinson to veto HB 1228, including other major corporations and tech leaders. The Arkansas Municipal League, Acxiom and Yelp have condemned the measure, as has Apple CEO Tim Cook, who is openly gay.
Earlier this year, Arkansas passed another controversial measure barring cities and counties from passing nondiscrimination laws that are more expansive than the state’s. Arkansas – like most states in the country – does not bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, so the measure effectively nullified LGBT protections that existed at the local level. That measure became law without Hutchinson’s signature.
Hutchinson will release a statement on Wednesday, his spokesperson told msnbc.