Arkansas bill prohibiting local anti-discrimination ordinances becomes law

Arkansas bill prohibiting local anti-discrimination ordinances becomes law

[JURIST] An Arkansas enacted a bill [SB 202, PDF] that prohibits cities and local governments from establishing ordinances with anti-discrimination codes became law Monday when Asa Hutchinson declined to veto it. Critics had called for a veto, as the legislation prohibits local governments from enacting laws to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals from discrimination. The stated purpose of the bill was to add an additional subchapter—the Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act—to the Arkansas Code to improve intrastate commerce “ensuring that businesses, organizations, and employers doing business in the state are subject to uniform nondiscrimination laws and obligations.”

LGBT rights remain controversial throughout the US. Earlier this month the governor of Kansas rescinded [JURIST report] an executive order protecting LGBT state employees from the discrimination, and the Oklahoma House of Representatives [official website] approved a bill [Reuters report] that would protect clergy members from involvement in lawsuits for their refusal to conduct same-sex marriages. Also this month the Florida House of Representatives [official website] introduced a bill that could prohibit [Huffington Post report] transgender people from choosing a bathroom, instead confining them to use the bathroom designated to the sex a person was at birth.