Governor of Arkansas: My own son signed petition telling me not to sign anti-gay law

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The Republican Governor of Arkansas has said his own son signed a petition calling on him not to sign a bill to allow businesses to refuse to serve gay people.

The state’s congress recently passed a “Religious Freedom Restoration” bill, which is near-identical to legislation that Indiana was condemned last month for passing.

The law allows organisations, such as businesses and churches, to discriminate against people if they have a religious objection – and it was feared it will increase discrimination against LGBT people, and hurt business in the state.

However, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has today said he will not yet follow Indiana Governor Mike Pence in signing the legislation, and has asked for “changes” to be made to it.

He said: “This is a bill that in ordinary times would not be controversial… but these are not ordinary times.

“The issue has been divisive, because our nation remains split on how to balance the diversity of our culture with firmly held religious convictions.”

The Governor revealed that his son Seth Hutchinson publicly denounced his plans to sign the bill, signing a petition.

He said: “My son Seth, signed the petition asking me, Dad, the governor, to veto this bill

“He gave me permission to make that reference, and it shows that … there’s a generational difference of opinion on these issues.”

He said: “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.

He said he would not allow the current version of the law to pass, saying: “It’s been my intention all along that [the bill] mirrors the federal act.

“Changes need to be made… the bill that is on my desk at the present time does not precisely mirror the federal law.

“I’ve asked the leaders of the General Assembly to recall the bill so it can be amended.”

While the move has been praised, critics have dismissed Hutchinson’s stand as an attempt to delay action until after media scrutiny has dropped.

Governor Hutchinson is no ally of the LGBT community – signing a law in February that blocked cities in Arkansas from actively protecting LGBT people against discrimination.