Religious Freedom Law: Arkansas Bill Awaits Governor’s Decision After Indiana … – NBCNews.com

As Indiana deals with a national uproar over its religious freedom law, the focus is shifting to Arkansas, where a similar bill has landed on the governor’s desk — and is opposed by the biggest company in America.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, has said that he plans to sign the measure, which opponents say businesses could use to justify denying service to gays on religious grounds.

Hutchinson announced an 11:30 a.m. ET press conference in Little Rock to talk about the bill.

Among those urging a veto is Walmart, which has headquarters in Bentonville and employs more people than any other company in the United States.

The company said in a statement that the Arkansas bill runs counter to its belief in “understanding and respecting differences and being inclusive of all people,” and “sends the wrong message about Arkansas.”

NBC affiliate KARK in Little Rock reported that Hutchinson was expected to comment on the bill Wednesday. A spokesman did not immediately return a call for comment from NBC News.

In Indiana, Gov. Mike Pence said on Tuesday that he wants language on his desk by the end of the week to clarify a religious freedom law there and spell out that businesses may not deny service to anyone.

The outcry in Indiana included the CEOs of Apple and other large companies, the governors of at least three other states.

At least 19 other states and the federal government have religious freedom laws, but legal experts have pointed out that Indiana’s and Arkansas’s have broader language that could give businesses more leeway to discriminate.

IN-DEPTH

— Erin McClam



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