Arkansas just backed down on controversial 'religious freedom' law

AP63751982454AP/Danny JohnstonArkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R).

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) announced on Wednesday that he isn’t happy with his state’s controversial “religious freedom” legislation and asked the state legislature to “recall” it and tweak the bill before he signs it.

Hutchinson was careful in his criticism, however, and said his main objection was that the Arkansas bill did not “mirror” the less controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed in 1993.

“We wanted to have it crafted similar to what is at the federal level. And to do that though, changes needed to be made. The bill that is on my desk at the present time does not precisely mirror the federal law,” Hutchinson said.

The governor’s press conference came one day after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) held his own event to defiantly defend his own state’s “religious freedom” legislation, which he signed into law last week.

On Tuesday, the Arkansas state house passed the controversial legislation, which had already been approved by the state senate. According to NPR, Hutchinson previously said he would sign his state’s religious freedom bill, HB1228.

The CEO of Wal-Mart, a major Arkansas-based business, passionately pleaded with Hutchinson to veto the bill.

“Every day, in our stores, we see firsthand the benefits diversity and inclusion have on our associates, customers and communities we serve. It all starts with our core basic belief of respect for the individual,” CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement. “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.”

This post will be updated with additional information shortly.

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