David Burnett flips, letting anti-gay and Ten Commandments bills out of committee | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

David Burnett flips, letting anti-gay and Ten Commandments bills out of committee

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 11:48 AM

click to enlarge BURNETT: The wobbly Democrat flipped over and helped to pass a bill allowing discrimination against gay people.
  • BURNETT: The wobbly Democrat flipped over and helped to pass a bill allowing discrimination against gay people.
Bring on the court challenges! Someone or another got to Democratic Sen. David Burnett and he flipped, caving and providing the needed fifth vote to pass a couple of Jerry Cox specials out of committee 5-3 yesterday: HB1228,  the so-called "conscience protection" bill from Bob Ballinger which would ensure protection for legal discrimination against gay people and SB939, the bill from Sen. Jason Rapert mandating that the Secretary of State build a monument commemorating the Ten Commandments on the Capitol grounds. 

The bills had stalled in the Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs committee. Four of the eight committee members are Democrats, who had blocked the bills (passage required a majority of five). This was an unhappy turn of events for Jerry Cox, head of the Family Council. Discriminating against gay people and displaying the Ten Commandments are important issues for Cox. Sources have told the Times that Cox expressed his displeasure to Gov. Asa Hutchinson — the Family Council and their allies were a core part of Hutchinson's base, so they wanted him to use his muscle to get the bills out of committee. The story goes that Hutchinson has been putting pressure on Burnett for some time. If that's true, it worked, though it's anyone's guess what the carrot or stick might have been. The Times has asked both Hutchinson and Burnett for comment and we will update this post if they respond. 

Both bills are heading to the Senate, where they are expected to pass. It's unclear what Hutchinson will do once they get to his desk. Hutchinson has expressed concerns about Ballinger's bill producing unintended consequences. Retail giant Walmart, meanwhile, publicly opposed the bill, stating that it "sends the wrong message about Arkansas." Critics have suggested that both Ballinger's bill and Rapert's Ten Commandments bill are unconstitutional, and legal challenges are likely. 

Interestingly, Christians could discriminate against gay people if Ballinger's bill passed but atheists could not, highlighting the same tensions between the First Amendment's establishment clause and its exercise clause that pop up with regard to peyote. I imagine that if Ballinger's bill became law, someone would try to use it to claim the right of conscience to take drugs for religious purposes. 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (23)

Showing 1-23 of 23

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-23 of 23

Add a comment

More by David Ramsey

Readers also liked…

  • Saturday's open line

    Got any thoughts? Put them here.
    • May 21, 2016
  • The two cities of Little Rock: East/west, black/white

    The Little Rock City Board illustrated this week a community divided over public schools, another blow to the Little Rock School District and another illustration of the need for ward elections to the board.
    • Mar 23, 2017
  • Civil War over in Fort Smith; lawyer strikes his Rebel mascot battle tent

    KSFM reports that Joey McCutchen, the lawyer who's been trying to restart the Civil War in Fort Smith over the School Board's decision to drop the Rebel mascot and related trappingsfor Southside High School, is dropping his School Board takeover campaign.
    • May 27, 2016

Most Shared

  • Industrial hemp pilot program coming soon to Arkansas

    One of the booths at this week's Ark-La-Tex Medical Cannabis Expo was hosted by the Arkansas Hemp Association, a trade group founded to promote and expand non-intoxicating industrial hemp as an agricultural crop in the state. AHA Vice President Jeremy Fisher said the first licenses to grow experimental plots of hemp in the state should be issued by the Arkansas State Plant Board next spring.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation