FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – April 1, 2015 – NWA Center for Equality issued the following statement by board president Chaz Allen following Governor Asa Hutchinson’s remarks about House Bill 1228 (HB 1228) authored by Representative Bob Ballinger of Hindsville:
“Arkansans have had enough. From the world’s biggest companies to individuals in small towns, we stand together against the inequalities that still exist in our state today. Governor Hutchinson showed that the voices of outraged citizens here and around the world can no longer be ignored. After weeks of insisting that HB 1228 exactly mirrors federal law, Governor Hutchinson now sees the harmful differences and says he will not sign this bill.
“This is a pivotal moment for Arkansas. Governor Hutchinson has an opportunity to reposition our state from injustice and discrimination to full equality for all Arkansans. We appreciate the change in his thinking and ask him to keep his word. Representative Bob Ballinger must finally agree to update his bill with language stating it cannot be used to undermine federal, state or local non-discrimination laws.
“While we support an executive order against discrimination we believe the best solution is for the state to finally update the Arkansas Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity, to protect all Arkansans. We believe civil rights are not exclusive. Every Arkansan deserves the right to work; the right to buy or rent a home; and the right to do business, without fear of discrimination.
“We continue to urge communities in Northwest Arkansas and around the state to enact local non-discrimination ordinances that can challenge SB 202/Act 137. Governor Hutchinson allowed this bill to become law and removed the right of local communities to extend civil rights protections to their citizens. We are grateful to the businesses, individuals and organizations supporting us in this movement for change and thank those legislators who showed true courage in voting against HB 1228 and SB 202. ”
About NWW Center for Equality
The NWA Center for Equality is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which leads a grassroots support and advocacy movement working to achieve full equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community in Northwest Arkansas. More information is available at nwaequality.org.