Arnold Schwarzenegger slams fellow Republicans over ‘religious freedom’ laws

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Former Governor of California tells Republicans they need to focus on more important issues or risk losing support.

Writing in the Washington Post, actor and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger calls out religious freedom laws such as those recently passed in Indiana, an passing through legislature in many other states. They allow businesses and organisations to refuse service to people if they have a religious objection, and have been used to justify discrimination against LGBT people.

Mr Schwarzenegger condemned such laws, saying: “Distracting, divisive laws like the one Indiana initially passed aren’t just bad for the country, they’re also bad for our party.”

He spoke about what the Republican Party meant to him when he first came to America from Austria, and how he felt the party was losing support by focusing on the wrong issues. He mentioned infrastructure, air pollution and education – “There are so many real problems that need solving.

“If we want our party to grow and last, we must be focused on real solutions to problems Americans are facing.”

He said support for the Republican Party had fallen dramatically in his home state of California since 2008, when Republicans fought for the Proposition 8 amendment that banned same-sex marriage. While Governor of California, Mr Schwarzenegger twice vetoed bills that would have allowed same-sex marriage.

He said: “Maybe that’s a coincidence, but there is no question that our party is losing touch with our voters, especially with the younger ones who are growing the registration rolls.

“I know what you’re thinking: ‘You Californians are eccentric. My state is different. That’s not going to happen here.’

“You’re wrong. All you have to do is look at the response to Indiana’s law on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, or pretty much wherever young people congregate and discuss what is important to them.

“If the Republican Party wants the next generation of voters to listen to our ideas and solutions to real problems, we must be an inclusive and open party, not a party of divisions. We must be the party of limited government, not the party that legislates love. We must be the party that stands for equality and against discrimination in any form.”

His support for LGBT rights was mixed during his time in office. Although he vetoed same-sex marriage, he went on to perform two ceremonies. He also signed in the repeal of a “gay cure” initiative. 

Last year, the director of Expendables 3 said he thought Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character was gay.