March 10, 2015 | Posted in Legislature | By

capitol3-1Yesterday Arkansas’ lawmakers filed over 450 pieces of legislation ahead of the filing deadline.

Many of these bills were what we call “shell bills.” These are bills with little more than a title, like, “A Bill to Improve Public Education.” These bills may be amended later to flesh them out; we will keep an eye on them to see how they are amended.

However, several complete bills were filed. Below are a few you may want to know about.

A Bill Making Sexual-Orientation and Gender-Identity Protected Classes

Twenty-two years ago, the Arkansas Legislature passed the Arkansas Civil Rights Act of 1993. Over the years we have fought to make sure Arkansas’ civil rights and hate crimes laws are not used to promote a homosexual agenda.

House Bill 1950 by Rep. Leding makes sexual-orientation and gender-identity protected classes in the Arkansas Civil Rights Act of 1993—right alongside race, religion, national origin, gender, and disability.

This bill injects sexual-orientation and gender-identity into the civil rights law, and carries many of the same unintended consequences as the so-called “nondiscrimination” ordinances repealed in Fayetteville last year and passed in Eureka Springs last month.

A Bill Protecting Religious Liberty

We have talked over and over again about florists, bakers, photographers, chapel owners, and others who have been forced to participate in same-sex weddings despite having deeply-held religious convictions against same-sex marriage.

House Bill 1879 by Rep. Hammer protects the freedom of a person, business, or religious institution to decline to participate in a wedding that violates their religious beliefs.

This bill would help protect the photographer who does not want to be forced to photograph a same-sex wedding; it also helps protect the minister who does not want to be forced to solemnize a wedding between a believer and a nonbeliever or between two people who do not belong to his church or religious group.

No one should be forced to do something in violation of their religious beliefs. H.B. 1879 helps protect Arkansans’ religious liberties.

Ten Commandments Monument Bill Filed

Sen. Jason Rapert has filed a bill allowing the Secretary of State to put a monument of the Ten Commandments on the Arkansas Capitol Building’s property.

Senate Bill 939 is based on case-law governing similar monuments that have been ruled constitutional. If passed, the bill would allow the monument to be paid for by a private party.

Jerry is the founder and president of Family Council. He began Family Council in 1989 after a successful effort to amend the Arkansas Constitution to prevent the use of public funds for abortions. He and his wife reside in Little Rock. They have four sons.