|Q Syndicate✒Feb 26, 2015|
Last week, the Arkansas legislature passed SB202, a bill by State Senator Bart Hester (R-Benton Co.) nullifying any local anti-discrimination ordinances which include LGBT Arkansans.
Arkansas on Monday banned local governments from expanding anti-discrimination protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity, becoming the second state to adopt a measure opponents call a thinly-veiled move to discriminate against gays and lesbians. ... The measure was introduced in reaction to a Fayetteville ordinance that voters repealed in December expanding the city's anti-discrimination protections. Eureka Springs in northwest Arkansas enacted a similar measure earlier this month, and Little Rock elected officials are weighing expanding that city's discrimination protections.Sen. Hester is one of those Big Government Conservatives; he previously co-authored a bill requiring houses of worship to admit handguns into their sanctuaries. He claimed that SB202 was needed to prevent a patchwork quilt of anti-discrimination laws hindering business and industry, in spite of the thundering silence on that count from business and industry.
The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce told ThinkProgress last week, “We have no position on that piece of legislation.” Walmart, which is based in Arkansas and has corporate LGBT protections, only spoke out on the bill Monday evening, mere hours before it was to become law without Hutchinson’s signature. Tyson Foods, another prominent Arkansas business that protects its gay employees, remained silent on the legislation.Governor Asa Hutchinson (R-Of Course) expressed "concerns about the loss of local control," but allowed the bill to go into effect without his signature anyway.
Meanwhile, a similar pro-discrimination law is already on the books in Tennessee, and another has been proposed in West Virginia.