Arkansas, Indiana Put Revised Laws on the Books

Lawmakers in both states modify legislation after uproar over gay rights
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2015 6:53 PM CDT
Arkansas, Indiana Put Revised Laws on the Books
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence takes a question during a news conference Tuesday in Indianapolis.   (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

New "religious freedom" laws are now on the books in Arkansas and Indiana—they're just not as controversial as they used to be after lawmakers toned them down. In Indiana, for example, an amendment clarifies that the law can't be used to refuse service to gay people, reports NBC News. Arkansas took a different tack with its legislation, "narrowing its scope" and making it nearly identical to a federal law already on the books, reports the Wall Street Journal and AP. Govs. Mike Pence of Indiana and Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas signed both measures into law today, and the compromises seem to have largely quieted the controversy.

The New York Times sums up: "While liberal critics of the initial bills say the new versions do not go far enough to prevent discrimination, some social conservatives see the measures as needlessly watered down. Many legislators insisted that they had never intended the bills as anti-gay, but most, in the end, saw the changes as acceptable compromises." Still, gay-rights activists in both states promised to revisit the issue. (Internet vigilantes went after an Indiana pizzeria whose owners expressed anti-gay views, and two bloggers pleaded for sanity in the aftermath.)

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