Indiana Does Damage Control, Arkansas Takes Harsher RFRA Stance

Mar 31, 2015 at 1:59 PM ET

While Governor Mike Pence made promises to “correct the perception that’s taken hold”—that Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) law could be used to discriminate against LGBTQ residents—Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said he won’t make such amendments to a similar RFRA bill on the table in his state.

Arkansas is expected to sign a similar RFRA into law as early as this afternoon. The bill was blocked by the Senate in February, but was reintroduced last week when a member changed his vote. Despite outcry from advocates and corporations including Apple and Acxiom, and a demonstrable economic fallout in Indiana following the implementation of its law, Gov. Hutchinson has said he will sign it—and has so far declined calls to add an anti-discrimination disclaimer.

“There’s not really any place to make any changes now,” Republican Rep. Bob Ballinger said yesterday. “If there are questions in two years we can fix it.”

It’s a different approach than the one Pence was pushing at this morning’s press conference. He told reporters that Indiana’s RFRA is not a license to discriminate, and that the act is more about “restraining government overreach” as it pertains to religious freedom—something he now wants to make clear in the statute.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that it would be helpful to move legislation this week that makes it clear that this law does not give businesses a right to deny services to anyone,” he said.

Read More:

Arkansas Poised to Enact “License to Discriminate” (Advocate)
What the ‘religious freedom’ law really means for Indiana (Indy Star)
Indiana’s Attitudes About Gay Rights Are Complex (Vocativ)