Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus to Gov. Hutchinson: Don't Sign the Bill

Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus released a statement over the state's Religious Freedom Bill, they wrote:

“As proud Arkansans, we stand united behind laws that are fair and just for everyone. We are mindful that not too long ago, laws of our state stood in blatant opposition to the value of inclusivity when lunch counters and universities rejected good and decent Arkansans because of their race, when we were told that some of us were unequal because of the color of our skin. HB1228 is reminiscent of those days. In words of long-time civil rights icon Julian Bond, “HB1228 in Arkansas opens the door to a hateful past that some had thought this country had left behind. This legislation cloaks discrimination in the guise of religion…”

For the members of the Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus, the value of religious freedom is immeasurable. For most Arkansans, it is the binding thread that brings together friends, family and strangers in fellowship. That is why the freedom of religion is cemented into our Constitution and into state and federal law. HB1228 would not protect religious belief. Rather, it would permit individuals and businesses to discriminate with impunity in the name of religion.

Hundreds of community leaders and thousands of everyday Arkansans have spoken out against the legislation, not because of any objection to freedom of religious belief but because legislation such as SB1228 can be used to discriminate on the basis of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender status; and religion, gender, age or other status. Therefore, in the name of fairness and equality, especially in the shadow of our state's history, we ask that HB1228 be amended or abandoned entirely to protect the civil rights of all Arkansans.

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