Group Says Arkansas Religion Bill Would Hurt High-Tech Efforts In State

Mar 26, 2015

The nation's largest gay rights group is stepping up its opposition to a religious protection bill in Arkansas, with an ad targeting Silicon Valley while the state's Republican governor tries to lure more high tech industry.

The Human Rights Campaign on Thursday announced it was running a full-page ad in the San Jose Mercury News highlighting its opposition to a measure that would prohibit state and local government from infringing on someone's religious beliefs without a "compelling government interest."

Gov. Asa Hutchinson told reporters Thursday he would sign the bill into law, which opponents have said would open the door to state-sanctioned discrimination against gays and lesbians. 

Hutchinson said he supports the latest version of a bill prohibiting state and local government from infringing upon someone's religious beliefs without a "compelling government interest."

The Senate could take up the legislation as soon as Thursday afternoon.

Hutchinson said he believes the measure balances concerns about protecting religious beliefs and worries about discrimination.

The Human Rights Campaign argued the bill undermines Hutchinson's effort to attract more technology jobs, and noted Apple's opposition to the bill. Wal-Mart has also expressed concerns about the proposal, saying it sends the wrong message about its home state.