Worse than Texas? When it comes to gay bigotry, could be | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Worse than Texas? When it comes to gay bigotry, could be

Posted By on Thu, Mar 12, 2015 at 4:57 AM

I've written before about what I call Rep. Kim Hammer's No Cake for Queers bill. It provides the ability for a business to claim a religious excuse to deny service to any person for any reason at any time in the name of religion, though he likes to portray it as being about the mythical wedding cake baker who doesn't want to provide a cake for sinners' weddings. (Meaning gays. Other forms of sin don't seem to make the bakers feel so bad.)

These bills are popping up around the country, particularly in the Blood Red Bible Belt, as a last-ditch protest of court-provided equality for gay people. They may be able to marry, but, by God. the disapproving don't have to feed, clothe, house or provide medical services for them.

Check this report out from Texas. Such a proposal got filed in Texas, too. But one legislative backer, Jason Villalba, has reconsidered. He fears it could be bad for business. A big big Texas business lobby thinks so.

According to a statement, Villalba is working with the Texas Association of Business (TAB) on HJR 55 “to ensure that its implementation would in no way impede Texas businesses or result in discrimination against any race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.”

According to TAB's president, Chris Wallace, the board of more than 100 members voted unanimously to oppose HJR 55 and SJR 10, a similar bill introduced in the Texas Senate. Wallace told the Texas Observer, "We feel that this will certainly make our state look very much unwelcoming when it comes to business recruitment. We also have several businesses within the state, our large corporations for instance, that have diversity policies already in place, and what we’re hearing from them is they want their state to look the same way.”

Worse than Texas? To date you'd have to say so. The business community hear — including titans like Walmart — have been quiet on discrimination in Arkansas for the most part, despite non-discrimination policies observed by many of them corporately. As the extremist legislature so cowed them? Could be.

UPDATE: We're definitely worse than Utah. With Mormon church backing, the Republican-majority legislature there has approved an anti-discrimination bill that protects LGBT people. Rep. Greg Leding has proposed adding sexual orientation to Arkansas's civil rights law.

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