A religious freedom bill passes in the Arkansas House of Representatives, prompting protests and drawing criticism from businesses. Nathan Frandino reports.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) UNNAMED PROTESTERS SAYING: "It's gonna want the younger people in Arkansas, not to stay in Arkansas. It's gonna drive us out." Outside the Arkansas statehouse, protesters are condemning the newly passed religious freedom act that they say opens the door for discrimination. The state's Republican-held House passed the bill Tuesday. GOP lawmakers maintain it's about keeping the state government from forcing business owners to act against their religious beliefs. But critics say the bill will lead to discrimination against gays and lesbians. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REP. CAMILLE BENNETT, ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT, SAYING: "The chatter around this bill and the apparent intent makes me really uncomfortable and sad for our state." House members are eager to get HB 1228 to Governor Asa Hutchinson, who has said he will sign it... bad news for protesters outside. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNNAMED PROTESTER SAYING: "He's giving religion a very bad image right now." The bill's sponsor says he has faith that the people of Arkansas will accept people from all backgrounds. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REP. BOB BALLINGER, ARKANSAS REPUBLICAN, SAYING: "We got some of the nicest folks in the world here in Arkansas. People are treated better here than they are treated almost any other place." Major corporations like Acxiom and Walmart have condemned the bill, giving these protesters more backing in their fight against the bill.