Wal-Mart just took a big stand against a controversial law set for passage in Arkansas.
On Tuesday, the Arkansas House of Representatives passed a controversial “religious freedom” bill similar to one recently approved in Indiana, which has ignited a firestorm of criticism.
According to the Associated Press, Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson has indicated that he will pass the bill, and the state’s most powerful employer — Wal-Mart — has come out against Hutchinson’s plan.
In a statement on Tuesday night, Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon said:
“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.
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. For these reasons, we are asking Governor Hutchinson to veto this legislation.”
McMillon’s comments come after Indiana has been taking a beating from business leaders, politicians, and celebrities after the passage of its own bill last week.
The most notable opponent of Indiana’s law, and others like it that have been proposed across the country, was Apple CEO Tim Cook, who wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post on Sunday night that said, “There’s something very dangerous happening in states across the country.”
Cook, who came out as gay in October 2014, wrote:
Our message, to people around the country and around the world, is this: Apple is open. Open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love. Regardless of what the law might allow in Indiana or Arkansas, we will never tolerate discrimination …
This isn’t a political issue. It isn’t a religious issue. This is about how we treat each other as human beings. Opposing discrimination takes courage. With the lives and dignity of so many people at stake, it’s time for all of us to be courageous.
In a news conference on Tuesday, Indiana governor Mike Pence blamed “reckless” reporting for the firestorm that has been ignited around the state’s religious freedom bill. “This law does not create a licence to discriminate. And this law does not give businesses a right to deny services to anyone,” Pence said.