Statement regarding HB 1228
From: Arkansas Democratic Caucus president, Tippi McCullough 3-25-15
The Stonewall Democratic Caucus of Arkansas' mission is to achieve equal rights for all Arkansans regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. The last few months have proved to be a challenge to say the least. Arkansas is moving backwards in regard to minority rights in general and especially the rights of LGBT Arkansans.
First the misleading, discriminatory SB 202 became Act 137. Now, we are past disappointed in regard to the reintroduction and passage out of committee of HB 1228. We are saddened and quite frankly let down that Democrat Senator David Burnett saw fit to flip his vote to guarantee that this bill would get out of committee and eventually arrive at the governor's desk.
HB 1228 shows how out of touch the Arkansas Legislature is with swiftly changing attitudes towards the LGBT community and big business and commerce. Over 50% of Americans are in support of same gender marriages and do not approve of discriminatory employment and housing practices that target the LGBT community. Not only do a majority of Americans not support discriminatory legislation that target LGBT but also multi-billion dollar businesses including Walmart and Apple have come out against HB 1228. If and when HB 1228 passes, the legislators have successfully alienated extremely talented young Arkansans who have contacted us and made it clear they refuse to live in a state that relegates the LGBT community to second class citizenship.
We are also disappointed that Rep. Ballinger has failed to keep his commitment to debate the Stonewall Democrats regarding HB 1228 in an open forum to educate the public. The Stonewall Democrats have attempted numerous times to make arrangements with Rep. Ballinger to schedule the debate but he has yet to respond. The last open forum that Stonewall Democrats hosted was standing room only with over 200 citizens in attendance. The public not only wants open discussion and explanation for HB1228 but deserves that open and honest discussion. So again, Stonewall Democrats are extending an invitation to any legislator who supports and plans on voting for HB 1228 and Governor Hutchinson to an open forum and public debate to explain their support for this discriminatory bill.
We would like to thank Senators Chesterfield, Elliott, and Johnson for their votes against HB 1228 and their strong stance for equality.