Apr 1, 2015 11:59 AM

Clinton: Ark. governor should veto religious liberty bill

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday pressed Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson to veto a religious objections bill in her former home state, warning it would allow "unfair discrimination" against gays and lesbians.

Clinton offered her views on Twitter shortly before Hutchinson spoke to reporters about a bill similar to an Indiana measure that has drawn fierce resistance from Democrats and business groups. Critics say the recently signed Indiana law is designed to protect businesses and individuals who do not want to serve gays and lesbians.

In Arkansas, Hutchinson urged the state legislature to either recall the bill or make changes to more closely resemble a 1993 federal religious freedom law signed by former President Bill Clinton. Hutchinson had previously said he would sign the Arkansas bill.

Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic presidential contender, said on Twitter that like the Indiana law, the Arkansas bill "goes beyond protecting religion" and "would permit unfair discrimination against (hashtag)LGBT Americans." Her husband was Arkansas' governor for more than a decade.

Clinton said on Twitter she opposed the Indiana law last week.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, defending his actions Tuesday, pointed to the 1993 federal law, arguing it served as the basis for his state's law. The Indiana law prohibits state laws that "substantially burden" a person, religious institution or business's ability to follow their religious beliefs unless the government can show it has a compelling interest. Pence asked legislators to clarify the law.

Democrats have pushed back against Pence's interpretation, saying the state law is much broader than the 1993 federal law. In a Facebook posting, New York Sen. Charles Schumer, a proponent of the law when he served in the House, wrote that the federal law was narrowly written to protect individuals' religious freedom not those of private companies or corporations from government interference unless the government or state had a compelling interest.


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