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Arkansas Senate Approves Controversial Religion Bill

Friday, 27 Mar 2015 05:37 PM

The Arkansas Senate overwhelmingly approved on Friday a bill its authors said is to protect religious freedoms but critics contend could allow business owners to refuse service to gays and lesbians because of their beliefs.

As the bill advances in the Republican-dominated Arkansas statehouse, the governor of nearby Indiana signed into law a similar "religious freedom" bill on Thursday, prompting protests from human rights groups and some business leaders.

The Arkansas measure says "governments should not substantially burden the free exercise of religion without compelling justification."

Supporters have said that a business should not be forced to cater a same-sex wedding if it violates the religious belief of the owner.

A U.S. judge has struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage but the decision has been put on hold pending appeals.

The measure called HB 1228 passed the House in February by a comfortable margin and now goes back to it for consideration of amendments in the Senate version. Governor Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, has said he would sign the measure.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, showed his displeasure with the measures and said in a tweet: "We are deeply disappointed in Indiana's new law and calling on Arkansas Gov. to veto the similar HB1228."

The American Civil Liberties Union said the state's constitution already protects religious freedom and the measure could bring about "an open season on discrimination."

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

 
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The Arkansas Senate overwhelmingly approved on Friday a bill its authors said is to protect religious freedoms but critics contend could allow business owners to refuse service to gays and lesbians because of their beliefs.As the bill advances in the Republican-dominated...
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Friday, 27 Mar 2015 05:37 PM
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