Arkansas Lawmakers Approve Bill Legalizing LGBT Discrimination

The Arkansas legislature today approved a bill to legalize discrimination against LGBT folks in the state.

The Arkansas House of Representatives voted decisively, 57-20, for SB202, with 7 members voting present. Having already cleared the state senate Monday, the bill now heads to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is not expected to veto the legislation.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican state Sen. Bart Hester, told BuzzFeed News this week that he sponsored the measure to create consistent policies across Arkansas that will attract business, and because he was infuriated that cities were attempting to expand civil rights laws for LGBT people.

“This bill creates uniformity for business, and citizens for that matter, so that our employment laws will be the same throughout the state,” Republican Rep. Bob Ballinger, the bill’s house sponsor, said before today’s vote on the house floor. “There are some things on a statewide basis we deal with all the time, such as murder and fraud — a variety of things that need to be uniform,” he said.

But Rep. Clarke Tucker, a Democrat, blasted the bill as a “proactive act of discrimination.”

Tucker also challenged the premise that it was good for business, pointing out the vast majority of Fortune 500 companies protect LGBT employees and may avoid moving their businesses to Arkansas.

I’m assuming the passage of this law will basically overturn the recently passed LGBT protections in popular Eureka Springs this week 🙁