Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan has joined Walmart, Acxiom, Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, and a growing list of others in opposing HB1228, the “religious freedom” measure passed Tuesday by state legislators.
The bill is similar to one recently approved in Indiana that has received a massive backlash from opponents who say religious freedom measures open the door for businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians in states where sexual orientation is not a protected class.
“This is the wrong law, in the wrong state, at the wrong time,” wrote Jordan in a letter to Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday. “This bill, and the rationale behind it, sends the wrong message about our state to our residents and to non-residents around the globe.”
Jordan said allowing discrimination will “undeniably hurt our state’s economic development” and set the state back in civil rights progress, an area in which he said Arkansas’s history has not been viewed favorably.
“While we look at our past and what we wish we would have done to be on the right side of history, now is our chance to act and be on the right side of history, and the only way to do that is for your veto of this bill.”
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon and top officials at Acxiom released similar statements asking Hutchinson not to sign the bill.
“Today’s passage of HB1228 threatens to undermine the spirit of inclusion present throughout the state of Arkansas and does not reflect the values we proudly uphold,” said McMillon.
Acxiom CEO Scott Howe and Executive Vice President Jerry C. Jones said the measure “inflicts pain on some of our citizen and disgrace upon us all.”
Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce President Steve Clark, who was opposed to Fayetteville’s contentious civil rights ordinance, issued a brief statement Wednesday morning denouncing HB1228, saying it is “bad for business and bad for our state.”
Hutchinson is expected to announce Wednesday whether he will sign the bill.