Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said Friday he is interested in the possibility that state-level protections for LGBT people may already exist.
Little Rock City Attorney Tom Carpenter argued earlier this week existing language in state anti-bullying law protects LGBT individuals, making ACT 137's municipal ordinance ban irrelevant to local LGBT protections and said ACT 137 could not be used to block ordinances protecting LGBT people.
On Tuesday, the City of Little Rock Board of Directors approved protections for employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and required city contractors to do the same.
Governor Asa Hutchinson said Friday he is interested in Carpenter’s reading of school bullying law to find existing state-level protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“I actually read the city attorney’s opinion on that, Mr. Carpenter, and it was very instructive. He was making the case that under state law, various provisions right now, there’s already protections in place,” Hutchinson told KUAR.
"I think we just have to see how that develops. I respect the opinion of the city attorney. I know there's different legal analysis on that so we'll just have to wait and see," he added.
ACT 137's ban on municipal ordinances excludes protected classes already specified under state law.