Arkansas Governor Asks Legislature to Change 'Religious Freedom' Bill

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he will not yet sign a law similar to Indiana's.

— -- Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has asked his state's legislature to alter a religious-freedom bill sent to his desk before he will sign it.

"I ask that changes be made in the legislature, and I've asked that the leaders of the General Assembly to recall the bill so that it can be amended to reflect the terms of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act," Hutchinson said.

"We want to be known as a state that does not discriminate but understands tolerance," Hutchinson said, referencing the controversy around Indiana's law.

Hutchinson pointed out that his own son signed a petition asking him to veto the bill. He also said a debate will continue over whether to add protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation to the state's laws or constitution, either through the state legislature or through a popular vote.

Like Indiana's SB 101, the Arkansas's HB 1228 states that the government must prove a higher standard of government interest in enforcing laws that infringe on the free exercise of a person's religion. Like the law in Indiana, the law in Arkansas applies to corporations, and opponents have warned that the bill would allow businesses to deny services to gays or lesbians.

After the wave of controversy over Indiana's bill, Pence appeared Tuesday to say he would support a change to the law that would make it clear businesses would not be allowed to deny services to gays and lesbians.