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US: Arkansas governor won’t veto bill permitting discrimination against gays

Nick Duffy February 15, 2015
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The Governor of Arkansas has said he will not veto a bill which blocks anti-discrimination laws from protecting LGBT people.

The state’s House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favour of bill SB202 this week, by a vote of 57-20 – and is set to head to the governor’s desk for final approval.

The legislation seeks to void ordinances adopted in individual cities and counties that protect workers from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The bill states that: “A county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state shall not adopt or enforce an ordinance, resolution, rule, or policy that creates a protected classification or prohibits discrimination on a basis not contained in state law.”

As the state of Arkansas does not recognise discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, this means that workers would be left without protection.

The state’s Republican governor, Asa Hutchinson, told Buzzfeed that he intends to allow the law to take effect.

He said: “I am allowing the bill to become law.”

Republican Bob Ballinger, who sponsored the bill in the House, said: “This bill creates uniformity for business, and citizens for that matter, so that our employment laws will be the same throughout the state.

“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.”

However Democrat Clarke Tucker issued a blistering rebuke, labelling the bill a “proactive act of discrimination.”

Tucker warned: “If we pass this legislation, we will be sending a message that we are out of step with corporate culture today in 2015.”

More: Anti-gay, Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, bill, Discrimination, governor, homophobic, Law, Republican, US

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