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Arkansas Governor calls for changes to #RFRA

Arkansas Governor calls for changes to #RFRA

No, not an April Fool’s joke

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson may have called for changes to his state’s recently-passed religious freedom legislation, but he certainly isn’t giving activists and the press a free pass to paint Arkansas’ RFRA with the wrong brush.

“This is a bill that in ordinary times would not be controversial, but these are not ordinary times,” he said during a press briefing earlier today. Hutchinson didn’t concede to arguments made by progressives and LGBT activists that the bill is a tool businesses can use to facilitate discrimination against gay people, but he did publicly ask the legislature to clarify language in the bill.

From the AP:

“What is important from an Arkansas standpoint is one, we get the right balance and secondly, we make sure that we communicate we’re not going to be a state that fails to recognize the diversity of our workplace, our economy and our future,” Hutchinson said at a news conference at the state Capitol.

Hutchinson initially supported the bill and on Tuesday his office had said he planned to sign it into law.

The move comes after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a similar measure into law last week. Pence this week said he wants follow-up legislation to address concerns that the law allows businesses to discriminate based on sexual orientation.

Hutchinson didn’t specifically call for changes that would prohibit the law from being used to deny services to someone, but said he didn’t believe the bill was intended to do so.

“This law that is under consideration does not extend discrimination,” Hutchinson said.

Of course it doesn’t, but that hasn’t stopped activists from claiming that it does.

19 other states have similar RFRA laws on the books, and several more have proposed state-based pieces of legislation that mirror 1993’s federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act—but you’d never know it based on the fit currently being pitched in the court of public opinion. As Jay Caruso wrote yesterday, much of this boils down to the politics of the moment, with multiple parties guilty of flying by the seat of their pants with regards to what these RFRA laws actually do.

Hutchinson is playing his cards close to the chest, and doing what I think Indiana Governor Mike Pence was trying to do during his arguably disastrous press conference yesterday. Fortunately for Hutchinson, he hasn’t had to walk much back, and is taking palliative steps to keep the madding crowd at bay while his caucus fiddles with semantics:

Hutchinson asked lawmakers to recall the law that the Arkansas House had given final approval on Tuesday — or to send him follow-up legislation that makes the changes he requested.

Meanwhile, Hutchinson said, he’s considering signing an executive order that bars discrimination among the state’s workforce.

“The issue has become divisive because our nation remains split on how to balance the diversity of our culture with the traditions and firmly held religious convictions,” Hutchinson said. “It has divided families, and there is clearly a generational gap on this issue.”

So, we’re fiddling, we’re tweaking—but we’re not making any substantive changes. Bravo, Mr. Governor, for being a more skilled wordsmith than many others who have thrown support behind RFRA legislation.

We’ll see what the legislature does with it, and keep you posted on the bill’s progress.

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Comments

“So, we’re fiddling, we’re tweaking—but we’re not making any substantive changes. Bravo, Mr. Governor, for being a more skilled wordsmith than many others who have thrown support behind RFRA legislation.”

Well, Amy, you continue to disappoint. This isn’t the kind of statesmanship I admire.

Hide the pea? Really?

Henry Hawkins | April 1, 2015 at 1:39 pm

Readers may not know, but Hutchinson is a Republican, lifetime ACU rating 84.

“Bravo, Mr. Governor, for being a more skilled wordsmith than many others who have thrown support behind RFRA legislation.”

This sort of criticism or innuendo is meaningless without examples. Who are these “others”?

What happened to a full-throated defense of religious liberty?

Once again, the Right concedes to the social and political marketplace bullying of the Left.

If the bill doesn’t give the baker or florist or photographer the right to DISCRIMINATE in the conduct of his business based on his religious conviction, then what is its purpose?

    anoNY in reply to pesanteur. | April 1, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    “If the bill doesn’t give the baker or florist or photographer the right to DISCRIMINATE in the conduct of his business based on his religious conviction, then what is its purpose?”

    Can anyone answer this question? I am genuinely interested to hear some responses…

      Ragspierre in reply to anoNY. | April 1, 2015 at 4:19 pm

      We All, every day, DISCRIMINATE for and against things or people with whom we interact. You stupid moron. If you wanna SCREAM “DISCRIMINATE” some more, please do. We’ll point and laugh.

      The RFRAs have, for two decades, allowed people to MAYBE be FREE from compulsion to provide services or goods that are inimical to their values. I think they’re too limited, since they don’t protect atheists and others who come to their conscience-based standards via some other route than religion.

      In the cases we’ve suggested (and you are too stupid to have dealt with) it isn’t PEOPLE but ACTIONS that the law allows providers protection from compulsion. In other words, people have SOME protection from being forced to do things that run counter to their consciences.

      Nor does any of this “just happen” for people seeking the protection of the law. They are merely permitted a cause or defense under RFRAs.

        anoNY in reply to Ragspierre. | April 2, 2015 at 7:08 am

        “We All, every day, DISCRIMINATE for and against things or people with whom we interact”

        And yet there are plenty of rules forbidding discrimination in a business setting. No one is saying that Christians are going to be forced to hang out with gays at the bowling alley.

        “In other words, people have SOME protection from being forced to do things that run counter to their consciences.”

        You are arguing that baking a cake runs counter to the baker’s conscience. The baker cannot be forced to put a pro-gay-marriage message on the cake (that is speech), but she sure as shit can be forced to bake it if that is what she does as a job. If she were a racist, she would have to sell a cake to a mixed-race couple…

          Ragspierre in reply to anoNY. | April 2, 2015 at 9:20 am

          No, you lying sack of shit. I arguing that ANY act that violates someone’s conscience should NOT be compelled by your fascist model.

          Say an Orthodox Jewish OB-GYN has a woman come to him demanding an abortion, or a “sex reassignment” (i.e., medical mutilation). What concept of “rights” permits her to compel the doctor to do what’s demanded?

          A Halal caterer has a group of hog hunters demand that the caterer provide his services to their annual banquet, preparing their kills according to their demands. Why would anyone think they must face the loss of their business if they decline the hunters?

          DEAL with those, liar.

      The purpose is to prevent a situation where people are allowed to have a religion but are mandated by law under penalty of vast financial fines to participate in what they religiously believe to be a sinful act, such as abortion, gay marriage, or drawing a picture of Mohammad on a cake using icing.

        anoNY in reply to JBourque. | April 2, 2015 at 7:04 am

        So…discrimination. So you think the governors of Indiana and Arkansas are lying when they say the laws are not about discrimination?

      Ragspierre in reply to anoNY. | April 2, 2015 at 9:39 am

      “The baker cannot be forced to put a pro-gay-marriage message on the cake (that is speech), but she sure as shit can be forced to bake it if that is what she does as a job.”

      That’s another outright lie. THAT’S EXACTLY what you advocate forcing people to do.

      CONDUCT is “speech” according to the law. See burning, flag, you stupid, lying SOS.

      If I were a pastry shop, I’d sell wedding cakes which were a blank slate. The customer would be given a kit with several brides, several grooms, a pubescent of each gender, a horse, and a German Shepard.

      The customer could decorate their “wedding” cake ad lib.

    LEEJAN in reply to pesanteur. | April 1, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    Bowing to the bullies.

    mkgilmour in reply to pesanteur. | April 1, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    The purpose of the bill should be to prevent the florist or baker or whomever from being forced to provide services that cause them to violate their religious beliefs. It should *not* allow that florist or baker or whomever to fail to provide service to *individuals* with whom they happen to disagree or not like. For instance, a restaurant should not be able to refuse to serve a man simply because he is gay, but they should not be forced to provide catering for his wedding. One has to do with the individual, the other has to do with the event. In my mind, these are very different.

    But it all boils down to rights–people on the Left think they are entitled to a result, instead of the opportunity to pursue that result. They don’t really know what their rights are. This creates a very dangerous…sometimes mob-like, atmosphere. I wrote an article about how the free market provides a fix for these issues. Check it out! http://mkgilmour.com/2015/04/01/the-free-market-a-fix-for-almost-anything/

Gremlin1974 | April 1, 2015 at 3:41 pm

This is nothing but a semantic argument that has been purposely framed by the left and the militant LGBT’s.

Their argument is that the bill will allow a business owner to deny services just because someone is gay, which none of these laws do, nor have they ever done.

What the law does is protect people who have deeply held religious beliefs from being forced to participate in activities that violate their religious beliefs. However that protection only applies to the State deciding without review that such actions are discrimination.

The left has made the argument, in the 3 cases usually touted, that a photographer, a florist, and a baker (several bakers actually) discriminated against these couples because they are gay. Which is simply untrue, the business owners only objected to participation in the ceremony, since that ceremony is sacred between a man and a woman.

Such as happened with the florist mentioned above. A gay couple that the florist has provided services for for 9 years were finally able to get married due to a recent change in law. They went to the florist and asked her to provide flowers for their wedding. She explained to the couple that she didn’t want to lose their business but that due to her religion she felt she could not participate in a same sex marriage ceremony. From all I have read the couple understood completely, they hugged and after they were married even went back to the florist for other things.

More than a month later, the ACLU got wind of this and reported it to the state (from all I have read the couple never really had a problem with the florists decision). The state swoops in and charges this woman with discrimination and has threatened to shut down her business if she doesn’t violate her religious beliefs. She was fined $1000 dollars and was going to be fined thousands of dollars in court costs. The state reduced the court costs to $1 after someone realized that the horrid bigoted monster of a florist was a 70+ year old grandmother who was going on the news making them look like the fascist totalitarians that they are.

Though Mike Pence was not very artful in what he was saying, the language they are going to add simply says that you can’t discriminate “because” someone is gay, which never happened in any of these cases.

They left also fails to mention that the laws do not provide civil protections, so the business owners can still be sued by a same sex couple.

What these laws and even the federal law, which the left fails to mention that Bill Clinton signed that one into law, do is make it so that the government must show a “compelling governmental interest” before just swooping down and leveling penalties. In other words it reaffirms something that should never have been in question. It reaffirms that we do have freedom of religion and religious expression.

I have a dear friend that argued, “well what if that is the best florist in town, or the best baker, or the best photographer?”, when did having the “best” become a “right”? Because if it is, I need someone to point me to my new Austin Martin, My new 12,000 square foot shack, and my new designer wardrobe! 🙂

    anoNY in reply to Gremlin1974. | April 1, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    The label “Christian” implies that the person follows the teachings of Christ. I can’t think of any verses of scripture where Jesus said to never defile oneself by participating in gay marriages.

    I do, however, remember clearly the passage in Luke where Jesus said that marrying a divorced woman was a sin….

      Ragspierre in reply to anoNY. | April 1, 2015 at 4:22 pm

      Hmmm… I bet MAYBE there was a reason Christ never addressed “gay marriages” at all.

      Whatdja thank, moron?

        anoNY in reply to Ragspierre. | April 2, 2015 at 7:09 am

        He didn’t even address homosexuality, which certainly existed back in 0 AD (at least, it existed in the time of Leviticus).

          Ragspierre in reply to anoNY. | April 2, 2015 at 9:16 am

          More lies. You won’t find any Roman or Hindi writings explicitly dealing with “gay marriage”, either, you stupid phuc.

          That’s because the idea was, up until just a few years ago, completely outside cultural norms of EVERY culture in history.

          Marriages…even in homo-phillic Greece…were always between a man and woman.

          Moron.

      Why the fixation on Christianity? There’s plenty of things Jews and Muslims shouldn’t be forced to do if they’re running a business.

        anoNY in reply to JBourque. | April 2, 2015 at 7:11 am

        “Why the fixation on Christianity? There’s plenty of things Jews and Muslims shouldn’t be forced to do if they’re running a business.”

        Oh, I know my audience on this website, is all. I of course would apply the same rules to other religions (and to atheists, etc.).

        Muslim bakers should be forced to sell cakes to women with their hair uncovered.

          Ragspierre in reply to anoNY. | April 2, 2015 at 9:26 am

          See? You just LOVES you some “forced”.

          It never occurs to you to let people deal with each other as they will…as they DO…in a framework of freedom and choice.

          You Collectivists are liars in your very core.

          “Pro-choice” your fat ass.

Is LI actually applauding this chickensh*t?

    Henry Hawkins in reply to DaMav. | April 1, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Welcome to Amy Miller’s Neighborhood. A GOP governor abandons a constitutional principle for fear of political backlash and on LI he’s a hero, a model for all those “many others” who like say stuff wrong and stuff. (Many others = conservatives).

Hey Asa, when the press comes screaming, tell them you’re just taking your cue from democrats who passed the federal legislation.
Tell them if they think it allows discrimination to then take the issue up with Clinton and the dems and find out why they passed it federally.
————-
Side note: Prof Jacobson got a shout out at American Thinker on the Virgina Bar piece.

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2015/04/dont_dissemble_to_prof_jacobson.html
Don’t dissemble to Prof. Jacobson

Henry Hawkins | April 1, 2015 at 6:25 pm

“In his announcement Wednesday that he wouldn’t sign a “religious freedom” bill that had reached his desk, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) offered a personal example of the contentiousness of the issue.

“My son Seth signed the petition asking me to veto the bill,” he said.

Given Hutchinson’s son’s politics, that’s not a big surprise. Seth Hutchinson is an organizer with the Texas State Employees Union and has been “a progressive since college days,” according to this Arkansas Times story.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/04/01/arkansas-governor-cites-his-son-while-rejecting-religious-freedom-bill-that-says-it-all/?wprss=rss_the-fix&tid=sm_tw_pp

LOL. You vote for a GOP governor and you get his progressive activist son. Arkansas Republicans must be angry as hell, like the NC TP-ers who supported Renee Ellmers, who immediately turned full-blooded RINO.

“ … nation remains split on how to balance the diversity of our culture … and firmly held religious convictions,” Hutchinson said.

A strange statement. The relationship between religious practice and the government is at least partly a Constitutional issue. “Diversity” is not a Constitutional issue.

The two hardly need any “balance”.

Juba Doobai! | April 1, 2015 at 9:01 pm

What a bunch of pantywaists these GOPers are. Homosexuals are waging vicious lawfare against Christian businesses with the intent to put them out of business, drive them out of the public square, and bankrupt them. Now, the GOP is making common cause with the homosexuals in depriving us of our rights? What about standing up for the constitutional rights of Christians? Do we have to pretend we are Muslims for our government to defend our rights?

To the homosexual community, this:
Your hypocrisy is breath-taking. You make common cause with Muslims who actually slaughter homosexuals even as you revile and attempt to stamp out Christianity. Word to you: stamp out Christianity and you pave the way for Islam. You asked for tolerance and having received it, show yourself intolerant.

Your quarrel is with God, not with us. You may bankrupt us, revile us, try to terrorize us, but none of that will change the fact that homosexuality is sin in the sight of God. No matter what you do, the Word of God endures forever, and you cannot rewrite the Scripture nor remove its texts. So, go talk to God and repent. His hand is outstretched to you all day long if you would turn from your sin and live.

    anoNY in reply to Juba Doobai!. | April 2, 2015 at 7:21 am

    “Your hypocrisy is breath-taking. You make common cause with Muslims who actually slaughter homosexuals even as you revile and attempt to stamp out Christianity. Word to you: stamp out Christianity and you pave the way for Islam. You asked for tolerance and having received it, show yourself intolerant.

    Your quarrel is with God, not with us. You may bankrupt us, revile us, try to terrorize us, but none of that will change the fact that homosexuality is sin in the sight of God. No matter what you do, the Word of God endures forever, and you cannot rewrite the Scripture nor remove its texts. So, go talk to God and repent. His hand is outstretched to you all day long if you would turn from your sin and live.”

    I’m not gay, but I am very pro-gay-rights, so I feel I can answer this. We are also against Muslim business owners discriminating, so there is that, no “common cause”, as you say.

    Homosexuality is not the only sin in the sight of God, there is also coveting thy neighbor’s ass and marrying a divorced woman (Jesus himself said this, in Luke). Working on Sunday is a sin (or is it Saturday)? Hell, witchcraft is apparently a sin, nothing like worrying about something that doesn’t even exist, huh? Lust is a sin, even with your own wife/husband. Also, disobedience to authority (does that include the President, or is he actually the Anti-Christ)? Fornication (hope you waited). Even foolishness.

Attention all tea partiers & libertarians! Now is the time to take over your local Republican county party PCOs. That’s what we’re doing here in Western Washington and we’ve already flipped our district representatives to all GOP. Two of them are conservative but there’s always next election to make it 3 for 3.

Grassroots – the source of power in more ways than one.

The word “skilled” has no business being used in any context of mention of the GOP.

These talentless hacks need to yield, or be shoved by the rest of us out of the way. The longer they stay out front and hog the GOP leadership positions, the faster the left will take the nation off a cliff.

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