Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s (R) son told Business Insider on Wednesday that he is “proud to have made a small contribution” to blocking the Republican-backed “religious freedom” bill in the state.
“I am happy that my Dad is now calling on legislators to rework HB 1228,” the governor’s son, Seth Hutchinson, wrote in an email. “I had communicated with him my opposition to the bill, along with thousands of other Arkansans and concerned citizens around the country.”
Hours earlier, Asa Hutchinson announced he would not sign the “religious freedom” bill after previously indicating he would. Although he said his main objection was that it did not “precisely mirror” federal law, Hutchinson also cited his son’s opposition as a sign of a “generational gap” on the issue.
“The issue has become divisive because our nation remains split on how to balance the diversity of our culture with the traditions and firmly held religious convictions. It has divided families and there is clearly a generational gap on this issue,” Hutchinson said.
Critics say the law would promote anti-gay discrimination. Supporters argue it would simply prevent government from interfering with religious practices.
In spite of Hutchinson’s comments, the bill isn’t dead in Arkansas. Hutchinson said he asked legislative leaders to go back to the drawing board and send him a new — and, presumably, far less controversial — piece of legislation modelled after the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The “religious freedom” issue became a national controversy last week, when Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed his state’s version of the bill into law. After a number of prominent business leaders threatened the state with an economic boycott, Pence relented on Tuesday and announced he would seek a legislative fix to the bill’s “perception problem.”
For his part, Seth Hutchinson told Business Insider that he hoped the the “groundswell of opposition” to HB 1228, the Arkansas bill, “will energize more Americans and help create a long-lasting drive for change in this country, on many issues.”
“I’m proud to have made a small contribution to the overall effort to stop discrimination against the LGBT community in Arkansas, the state that I love (Go hogs!). I love and respect my father very much, but sometimes we have political disagreements, just as many families do,” he said. “We must build a mass movement of Americans fighting for economic, environmental, and social justice if we want to see real progress.”
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