Wal-Mart Is Against Religious Freedom Bill

Wal-Mart's CEO has asked the Arkansas governor to veto a newly passed bill that is causing controversy.

Wal-Mart Is Against Religious Freedom Bill Photo (cc) by JeepersMedia

Wal-Mart is taking a stand against a state religious freedom bill that critics argue could lead to discrimination.

House Bill 1228, also known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, reached the desk of Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson Tuesday after the Arkansas House of Representatives passed it with a 67-21 vote. It remained on the governor’s desk as of this morning, according to the state Legislature’s website.

Wal-Mart is headquartered in Bentonville, Ark.

The retailer’s chief executive, Doug McMillon, said in a statement Tuesday:

Every day, in our stores, we see firsthand the benefits diversity and inclusion have on our associates, customers and communities we serve. It all starts with our core basic belief of respect for the individual.

Today’s passage of HB1228 threatens to undermine the spirit of inclusion present throughout the state of Arkansas and does not reflect the values we proudly uphold. For these reasons, we are asking Governor Hutchinson to veto this legislation.

House Bill 1228 is similar to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was signed into law by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence last week and that continues to prompt high-profile outcry. For example:

  • On Friday, the Washington Post published an opinion piece by Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook with the headline “Pro-discrimination ‘religious freedom’ laws are dangerous.”
  • On Tuesday, NASCAR, which hosts events in Indiana’s capital of Indianapolis, issued a statement that it’s “disappointed by the recent legislation passed in Indiana. We will not embrace nor participate in exclusion or intolerance. We are committed to diversity and inclusion within our sport.”
  • Also on Tuesday, the state’s largest newspaper, the Indianapolis Star, published an editorial and a dramatically designed front-page headline urging Pence to “fix this now,” which he has proposed to do.

If Hutchinson signs Arkansas’ House Bill 1228, it will take effect the day he signs it, according to the bill. If the governor vetoes the bill, state legislators will have an opportunity to vote to override his veto.

If the governor does nothing, meaning he neither signs nor vetoes the bill, it will still take effect after his veto window expires.

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